Trump and Democrats Agree a Plan for U.S. Infrastructure Overhaul Needs $2 Trillion

By Shrey Fadia May 03, 2019

It’s May, and as so many experts have been calling a “May Day” warning for years on the state of America’s crumbling infrastructure, with very little real action over the last several years, it was refreshing to learn recently that most of the Congress and administration agrees on one thing: it’s time to rebuild.

Emerging from a White House meeting that lasted 90 minutes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they were "very excited about the conversation that we had." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. called it "very constructive," adding that it is clear Democratic leaders and the president "want to get something done on infrastructure in a big and bold way."

"The United States has not come even close to properly investing in infrastructure for many years ... We have to invest in this country's future and bring our infrastructure to a level better than it has ever been before," Schumer’s statement said, adding that the proposed package would include funds to repair roads and bridges, along with water projects and "a big emphasis" on broadband and the power grid, so "we can bring clean energy from one end of the country to the other."

This is great news for companies in the IoT and Industrial IoT space, who have been themselves investing for many years in software, sensors and systems that instrument the physical world, and thus can help manage and maintain 21st century roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, trains and other public transportation in valuable new ways.

"Originally, we had started a little lower,” Schumer said. “Even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion, and that is a very good thing," Schumer said.

Pelosi told reporters that Trump agreed on the importance of broadband infrastructure, a signal that a broader, more modern definition of infrastructure will be the basis for further discussions. “It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs,” Pelosi said, describing the conversation as “exciting.”

Schumer said that another meeting will take place in three weeks.

The timing will be interesting, given that the 7th annual Infrastructure Week kicks off May 13 in Washington DC, with nearly 100 events nationwide throughout the week, including one which TMC is the media sponsor for.

“America’s future will be shaped by the infrastructure choices we make today,” said Infrastructure Week’s CEO Zachary Schafer. “During Infrastructure Week you’ll see business and labor, Republicans and Democrats, and leaders from across America united in elevating a vision of that future, and the infrastructure policies and technologies needed to achieve it.”

Smart City Works, another non-profit based in DC, is co-hosting an event with Infrastructure Week and the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties on Tuesday, May 14. The theme for that event is the opportunity to leverage “connected technologies” to make communities safer, more livable, more environmentally sustainable, and ultimately less expensive to operate.

If we were able to meet the tremendous infrastructure challenges of the 19th Century by building subways to enable citizens to travel more efficiently, waste water treatment and distribution systems to eliminate communicable diseases and provide electricity to every citizen for heating, cooking and light,  there is no reason why we cannot meet the infrastructure challenges of  the 21st Century. 

The CEO of Rocket Wagon Venture Studios, IoT pioneer Don DeLoach will be delivering a talk at the event on May 14, and said about the $2 Trillion announcement, “While long overdue, this is a welcome sign. Hopefully, the investment will be framed with an innovative view of modernizing our infrastructure consistent with our progression to a cyber-physical world. There is so much we can do to make our infrastructure safer, stronger, and more resilient, and technology should surely play a prominent role. ”

“Our message is, let’s work together,” Pelosi said Monday. “The American people understand the need to build the infrastructure of our country. Let’s find a solution.”

Not all elected officials agree that investing infrastructure makes sense for the economy – for jobs – and for the long-term success of the Nation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy cast doubt on the success of the meeting. “I don’t think their meeting will go very well,” McCarthy said minutes before the talks were scheduled to start. “No matter what you do on infrastructure you have to have a bipartisan,” McCarthy said. “And they’re walking into a meeting today saying you have to change the tax cuts to the American public and raise taxes on the American public if they were to go along with an infrastructure bill. I think that’s a loss.”

“The key to the discussion, really, was the willingness of the president,” said Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. By the end of the meeting, he said, ‘I have responsibility to lead on this front as well, and I’m prepared to do so.’

“It is a really nice rainbow now that connects the U.S. Capitol all the way down to the White House,” said CNN’s Mark Preston. “When you talk about things that need to get done here in the United States, infrastructure is something that needs to get done. We all drive on the roads. We also understand about the job creation that it creates. We also know big business and the unions are behind it.”

You can learn more about Infrastructure Week here, and sign up to attend the free event on May 14 here.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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