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When Will Infrastructure Become a Priority for Funding?

Aging and decrepit infrastructure is an Achilles heel in disasters.

by Eric Holdeman / March 4, 2021

It has been well over eight years that the two previous presidential administrations have talked about making renewing America's infrastructures a priority. During the Obama administration, the Republicans did not want to give Obama a win so they didn't cooperate on any funding measures. Then the Trump administration had almost weekly "infrastructure weeks" for emphasis, but could not get out of their own way to make it happen in the last four years.

Now with the Biden administration, there is talk about a mega infrastructure funding bill to follow the current COVID-19 bill that was passed by the House and sent to the Senate. It appears that in the Senate they are moving to pass the COVID-19 bill via "Budget Reconciliation," which only requires a 51-vote majority to pass. This can normally be done once a year, and since it was not used in 2020, there can be two such "Budget Reconciliation" actions in 2021. 

There are already discussions that an infrastructure bill will be passed using "Budget Reconciliation" as the next major piece of legislation. We'll see how this all plays out in the months ahead.

What I do know is that the majority of our infrastructure systems are aging and not being maintained properly or replaced. You only need to look at the Texas electrical grid to see what happens when preventive measures and practices are not used. They were very lucky that they did not experience a catastrophic failure of the grid that would have caused a statewide blackout for months because of damaged equipment. 

Ports, airports, highways, dams, the electrical grid, communications, and water and sewer systems all could use a shot of funding. 

If I was going to lobby for anything, I'd go for the electrical grid and communications infrastructure. There is a huge need to get high-speed Internet connectivity to every community, large and small, urban and rural. To make sure the communications piece runs effectively, we need a reliable and robust electrical grid to support the communications system. 

Once a bill is passed, it will take another two years to get funding into the construction stream. Nothing is automatic these days and the process for getting the funding allocated can make the legislative process seem rapid at times. Don't forget the environmental review process for each proposed project!

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