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Opinion: Let’s Build Something Great Together

Trump and Congress should work toward a 21st century infrastructure system

 The Trump administration is expected to prioritize ways to encourage investment in infrastructure, Rep. Sam Graves writes. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)
 The Trump administration is expected to prioritize ways to encourage investment in infrastructure, Rep. Sam Graves writes. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

2017 was a record year for our economy. Thanks to tax reform, and this administration’s aggressive regulatory reduction, our economy is growing at an exponential rate. 2018 presents a great opportunity to push the throttle on our economic growth as we move to our next big priority: infrastructure.

Infrastructure is pure commerce. Everything in this country moves. So an efficient transportation network is vital to our economic future. However, federal funding for infrastructure is not unlimited.

With that in mind, the Trump administration is expected to prioritize new, innovative proposals to encourage additional investments in infrastructure that warrant serious consideration.

No new or existing program is going to be the silver bullet that fixes every one of our infrastructure needs. But coupling these new ideas with improvements to current federal transportation programs will make a meaningful impact.

An integral piece of the administration’s proposal will be to address the current federal permitting process. Anyone who defends the status quo has never been a part of any project — big or small — involving the federal government.

The president understands this. He has been building large projects his entire life, giving him firsthand knowledge of just how unnecessary and costly the process can be. We can no longer afford to let the federal process delay projects and drive up prices, which ultimately hurts workers, commuters and our economy.

Most importantly, we need to address how we pay for our infrastructure. In May 2017, a bipartisan majority of both parties in the House expressed support for fixing the highway trust fund. An infrastructure package is an ideal opportunity to address this problem.

Doing so would provide long-term certainty beyond 2020, when the trust fund, our primary source of federal infrastructure investment, will again be insolvent. We must break the cycle of bailouts for the highway trust fund. It simply isn’t good policy.

Finally, we must look toward the future.

Technology is rapidly developing, but our infrastructure does not yet reflect those advancements. That needs to change.

It will require a soft touch from regulators to realize the full potential of American innovation. Local leaders also need to find new opportunities to work in tandem with private enterprises. And it will require the federal government to make smarter, more efficient investments in infrastructure.

Infrastructure drives every aspect of our economy. This president is a builder, and Congress should work with him to build something great together — an infrastructure system that brings the United States into the 21st century.

Rep. Sam Graves is a Republican representing Missouri’s 6th District. He chairs the Transportation Highways and Transit Subcommittee, which oversees the development of a national transportation policy and focuses on improving America’s highway system.

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