The Road Ahead for Biden: Infrastructure Priorities02 Dec 2020
As this tumultuous election year comes to a close, the public eye is now focused attentively on the incoming administration’s proposed agenda to revive a beleaguered economy and suppress the spread of COVID-19. However, another crisis has been looming.
As the Council on Foreign Relations reports, the state of U.S. infrastructure is also in peril and has been for some time. Due to what many consider to be an ineffective financing system, national infrastructure is dangerously overstretched, with more than $2 trillion in funding needed by 2025. In response to these dire circumstances, the Biden Administration will need to prioritize infrastructure investment and revitalization.
Predictions on the Biden Administration’s ability to significantly address the major issues plaguing U.S. infrastructure policy are critical, and perhaps rightly so. There is a chance that a Republican-controlled Senate would effectively undermine major spending efforts attempted by the Biden Administration. With the Senate majority still undetermined, gridlock seems probable. Considering a failed infrastructure deal attempted early in the Trump administration, and Senator McConnell’s hesitance to recognize a Biden victory, chances of a bipartisan coalition on funding for bridges, highways, and airports seems unlikely.
Build Back Better, the Biden Administration’s proposed economic recovery and infrastructure agenda, is an expensive and comprehensive proposal that addresses investments in schools, water systems, municipal transit, and universal broadband systems. A $2 trillion plan, Build Back Better has the potential to resolve pressing infrastructure issues—a federal directive supported by the American public.
According to a 2020 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 68 percent of Americans support spending more to construct or repair infrastructure to increase resilience beyond a state of good working condition. Additionally, tech startups are also supportive of the Build Back Better plan. With the expressed intention of improving existing infrastructure with innovative technology, Build Back Better could mean substantial financial gains for tech companies focused on telecommunications and utility infrastructure.
Furthermore, there is anticipation (and a touch of controversy) building as the incoming Administration prepares to announce the future Secretary of Transportation. The frontrunner for the position appears to be Eric Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles—and, for the past five days, LA-based protesters have attempted to publicly denounce his potential appointment. Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also appears to be in the running for the position. Similarly, this possibility has been met with backlash by progressives and activists.
In light of these obstacles, passing an effective infrastructure plan seems like a daunting task. Nevertheless, it is a necessary one. The U.S. is at a turning point, and investing in a sustainably modernized infrastructure system is an unexpendable step in the right direction.
Written by Blair Hassett, Public Policy Intern
The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization. An innovative think tank, Aii explores the intersection of economics, law, and public policy in the areas of climate, damage prevention, energy, infrastructure, innovation, technology, and transportation.