Washington Times: The bipartisan infrastructure law: A roadmap for getting things done

WASHINGTON TIMES, ABIGAIL SPANBERGER

When President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law in November 2021, we celebrated. We celebrated a moment when both Democrats and Republicans sat down, hammered out differences, and delivered for the American people.

But getting a major physical infrastructure package — a broadly popular one, at that — across the finish line was not a foregone conclusion. When conversations started about a potential infrastructure deal during the Trump administration, many pundits and political analysts thought it couldn’t get done.

The idea of “infrastructure week” became a running joke in the media. And for some lawmakers, it was much easier to be cynical. But thankfully, many Democrats and Republicans kept the faith.

In April 2021, I joined a summit in Annapolis, Maryland, hosted by then-Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R). Our conversation included 25 governors, U.S. Senators, and U.S. Representatives. We met to discuss and debate many shared physical infrastructure priorities in several of our states. We heard from Republicans like U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) — and we heard from Democrats like U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

Additionally, Governors like then-Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) discussed how potential transportation funding would benefit their states, as well as how they feared some of the bureaucratic hurdles ahead. By the end of the summit, we had heard perspectives from both parties, worked through disagreements, and arrived at a shared conclusion: we could get it done.

Our initial framework focused on investments that would make “our communities more livable and enable us to more safely and efficiently move people, water, energy, and goods across America.

But it’s easier to settle on priorities than to settle on an actual bill that can pass in both chambers of Congress. Getting the actual Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act through Congress was not easy. The final package was the result of months of negotiations — as well as feedback from local leaders, local Chambers of Commerce, and local unions. It was the result of making the case to our colleagues that this legislation was a priority for our constituents, our economy, and our transportation networks.

The bipartisan infrastructure law has already delivered $4.7 billion for Virginia alone. For the Virginians I represent, these transportation investments will mean faster commute times, safer and stronger bridges, more timely rail service, and new facilities at our regional airports. Rome can’t be built in a day — but it’s clear that Rome’s construction is well underway.

Over the last few months, I’ve toured road projects that are going to clear up congestion — so that Virginians can get to work, school, and home faster. I’ve toured bridges that are finally going to get the repairs they need — so that Virginians can know they are safe. And just last month, I was in Spotsylvania County to celebrate a major investment in making our rail crossings safer — so that Virginians can avoid tragic accidents.

My job is to get things done for the people I serve, and I was proud to be a part of delivering transportation funding to Virginia through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Going forward, the process behind the law gives us a roadmap for how we can still work together, even as we find ourselves in a new era of divided government in Washington, D.C.

With this spirit of cooperation, I hope we can have many more “infrastructure weeks” in the future.

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