Infrastructure
September 11, 2017
Will Congress approve an infrastructure modernization bill?

Experts say the United States needs to spend more on repairing and modernizing the nation’s aging infrastructure, and President Trump and congressional Democrats have offered trillion-dollar plans. A key difference: Democrats want to use only federal money, while Trump says a $200 billion federal investment would attract $800 billion in spending by businesses and state and local governments. Neither plan, however, stipulates where the funds would come from or what projects they would cover, although Trump is calling for selling government facilities and “slashing regulations” to speed construction. Experts say the needs extend beyond traditional infrastructure to high-speed internet, a more secure and versatile electric power grid and hacker-resistant communications. Some question the call to invest trillions in infrastructure, saying that U.S. infrastructure has been consistently improving in recent decades, that its quality is comparable to that of other advanced countries, and that spending advocates have conflicts of interest.

A construction worker prepares portions of a bridge as part of the Arapahoe Road-Interstate 25 interchange reconstruction project in Englewood, Colo., on Aug. 25, 2016. (Getty Images/The Denver Post/Seth McConnell)   A construction worker prepares portions of a bridge as part of the Arapahoe Road-Interstate 25 interchange reconstruction project in Englewood, Colo., on Aug. 25, 2016. President Trump and congressional Democrats have proposed spending $1 trillion over the next decade to upgrade the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, but they disagree on how to finance the improvements. (Getty Images/The Denver Post/Seth McConnell)

Devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey in late August offered dramatic evidence for Americans who say the nation needs to spend trillions of dollars to repair and modernize its aging infrastructure.

“It’s going to take months and months, if not years, to rebuild a lot of our infrastructure, especially in the Houston area,” said U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, referring to damage to roads, bridges, shipping facilities and other installations. Other Texans said the hurricane demonstrated the need for constructing a $15-billion sea-wall to protect the city of Galveston and the Houston Ship Channel, which generates more than $600 billion in annual economic activity, and for modernizing or replacing dams that could not contain the water Harvey dumped into Houston-area streams. 1

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