This piece was written by Gov. Larry Hogan and appeared here on USAToday.com
If you’ve found the legislative process surrounding the infrastructure bill frustrating and head scratching, don’t worry. As a governor who operates outside the D.C. bubble, it doesn’t make much sense to me either.
Ahead of next week’s scheduled vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, my message for Washington is much simpler than any of their arcane legislative procedures: Just get it done.
Call me old fashioned, but in my state, I approach rebuilding infrastructure by identifying the most critical needs for our constituents and working to secure support for those projects based on their merit.
That’s exactly how the bipartisan infrastructure bill worked in the Senate, where it secured overwhelming bipartisan support. But, instead of voting on passing the bill, the process in the House has been hijacked by repeated threats from the extremes and attempts to tie it to separate and unrelated pieces of legislation that we don’t need and can’t afford.
Partisan factions have pulled every trick in the book to avoid just giving the bill the up-or-down vote it deserves. Only in Washington do politicians work this hard to find excuses to not do anything. At this point, they can’t even pass the things they agree on.
Outside of Washington, it’s not hard to figure out the obvious: America’s infrastructure is crumbling and in desperate need of federal investment. China spends three times more than the United States on infrastructure, and the longer we continue to punt this issue down the road, the more we will continue to fall behind. Failure to do so could cost America 2.5 million lost jobs in 2025 and 5.8 million lost jobs in 2040. The devastating impacts of recent storms and the pandemic have only made clear the urgency of increased investments in resiliency and broadband.
There’s nothing partisan about these basic facts. That’s why the American people overwhelmingly support the bipartisan infrastructure bill. A recent poll found 72% of Americans in 33 key swing districts want Congress to pass it into law.
While I’ve made investing in infrastructure a top priority in my state, we need the federal government to do its part too. The bipartisan infrastructure bill will take a major step in fulfilling these needs. In Maryland, at least $6 billion from the bill would be directed to improve transit systems, railways, clean water systems, roads, bridges, and tunnels. According to an analysis from the Penn Wharton Budget Model, this bill would make these critical improvements without adding to the debt or raising taxes.
If this bill is considered on those merits, I believe it should and will pass next week overwhelmingly. Unfortunately, the political gamesmanship of the last two months may have slowly eroded its strong bipartisan support. If the bill fails, it will be more proof that Washington may be even more broken than America’s infrastructure.
Larry Hogan, a Republican, is the governor of Maryland. He was re-elected in 2018.