Coalition urges Congress to pass bipartisan infrastructure bill

Coalition urges Congress to pass bipartisan infrastructure bill
© Greg Nash

A coalition of groups is urging House and Senate leadership to pass bipartisan legislation to improve the nation’s infrastructure systems.

“The time is now to pass a bipartisan, comprehensive package that transforms U.S. infrastructure systems beyond the status quo and maintains U.S. competitiveness in a 21st century economy,” reads a letter sent by the Infrastructure Working Group. The group, which includes a range of labor unions and trade associations, is spearheaded by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Associated General Contractors of America.

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The 150 groups that signed on to the letter are calling on Congress to pass infrastructure legislation that increases federal investments in infrastructure, addresses “shortages in key federal infrastructure accounts” and creates opportunities for private investments in infrastructure. 

They want the legislation to “complement and strengthen existing tools” that deliver infrastructure investments and to encourage “active participation among all levels of government and between public and private sectors without shifting federal responsibilities.”

The letter, which is addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Election security to take back seat at Mueller hearing McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump says he will meet with Schumer 'ASAP' after border visit Dem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties MORE (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Mnuchin reach 'near-final agreement' on budget, debt ceiling Wendy Davis launches bid for Congress in Texas Steyer calls on Pelosi to cancel 'six-week vacation' for Congress MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week EU official in Canada says he feels 'at home' there because no one was shouting 'send him back' MORE (R-Calif.), is being sent ahead of a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on Thursday.

That hearing, titled “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure Cannot Wait,” is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. It will examine the current state of different infrastructure systems in the U.S.

Those scheduled to testify include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), Minnesota Gov. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzMinnesota program will pay homeowners to transform lawns into bee gardens as species inches closer to extinction Minnesota governor signs law making marital rape illegal New governors chart ambitious paths in first 100 days MORE (D), former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson.

Democrats and Republicans have both expressed openness to a bipartisan infrastructure package.

Following the midterm elections, Pelosi voiced hope that Congress could pass legislation to build improve U.S infrastructure. 

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE said “both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.”

But lawmakers have expressed doubt that Congress can agree on how to fund infrastructure investments.

“I think it’s obvious that a lot of our infrastructure is crumbling and needs repairs, but how do you fund it when you’re spending on other things as well?" Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Trump may intervene in Pentagon cloud-computing contract: report Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE (R-Wis.) recently told The Hill.