I believe in limited government because government works best when it stays out of our way—when it lets Americans innovate and succeed, thrive, and live free. That said, there are a few things the federal government should do—and should do well. One of those is infrastructure.
From our nation’s earliest days, infrastructure has always been crucial. It started with roads, bridges, and waterways, but as our country grew, so too did the ways people and goods get from point A to point B. Today, railways and airports are just as critical for meeting our transportation needs.
Fortunately, we have transportation trust funds that are dedicated to improving this critical infrastructure—money that can’t be spent on any other government program. However, we have to make sure those dollars are being well spent to repair and improve our infrastructure.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the latter half of the 20th Century, we lost sight of how important infrastructure is for moving our country forward. Today, we have crumbling roads, dilapidated bridges, waterways that desperately need dredging, and flood control systems that haven’t been improved in decades. These problems aren’t subtly brewing in the background. They’re right in front of our faces every day.
It’s the potholes and one-lane bridges we cross on the way to work or school. It’s the traffic jams we sit in and the ports that remain closed year-round. It’s the levees that break after years and years of neglected maintenance—flooding communities, centuries-old farms, and family homes.
There’s no doubt about it—America has an infrastructure problem, and we need to fix it. I applaud President Biden for recognizing this problem and for wanting to find a solution—just as I applauded President Trump for wanting to fix our infrastructure. But, as I told President Biden earlier this month in a meeting at the White House: we need to keep in mind that whatever infrastructure bill we come up with, it must be bipartisan, and it must be paid for.
That’s why we need targeted investments in infrastructure. We need to take a hard look at where the most significant backlogs are and invest in transportation projects that will actually make a difference. We simply cannot afford another Green New Deal disguised as an infrastructure bill.
Liberals tried that last year and what we wound up with was jack squat. Nothing passed. No real effort to fix our infrastructure went anywhere. We can’t afford that either. The longer we wait, the worse this problem gets.
That’s why we must come together on this to get a bipartisan bill done that makes targeted investments in fixing and improving our infrastructure without breaking the bank. That way, we can pay for it by cutting waste instead of raising taxes on working families.
Sam Graves is the Mo. Sixth District U.S. Representative.