By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA
In his Feb. 4 State of the Union address, President Donald J. Trump urged Congress to pass infrastructure legislation.
“We must also rebuild America’s infrastructure,” he said. “I ask you to pass Senator John Barrasso’s highway bill to invest in new roads, bridges, and tunnels all across our land.”
His comments represent the first time during a State of the Union address that Trump asked Congress to act on specific infrastructure legislation. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW), led by Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), in July unanimously passed the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.
The bill is still waiting for consideration before the full Senate. House Republicans and Democrats have put forward separate infrastructure principals, but not a detailed bill.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who delivered the Democratic response to Trump’s speech, highlighted the actions governors in states are taking to improve infrastructure. “During my campaign, people told me to fix the damn roads, because blown tires and broken windshields are downright dangerous, and car repairs take money from rent, childcare or groceries,” she said.
Whitmer recently led an effort to approve $3.5 billion in one-time bond revenue for Michigan roads, doubling the state’s funding for roads over the next five years.
Having infrastructure mentioned in both speeches reinforces the bipartisan appeal of infrastructure—a message ARTBA staff emphasizes every week with Capitol Hill offices. ARTBA will continue to work with Congress to ensure passage of a new surface transportation reauthorization bill before the current law expires Sept. 30.