Bustos and Finkenauer: It's time to rebuild our country

May 20, 2019
In The News

May 19, 2019. Reprinted with permission of Telegraph Herald.

The Greatest Generation earned its name for a reason. They survived an economic depression through the determination and grit that defines our country at its best. And when duty called during World War II, they proudly put on our nation’s uniform and defeated evil forces that threatened peace and stability across the globe.

But their service didn’t stop on the battlefield. When these brave men and women returned home, they traded in their uniforms for hardhats and rebuilt America with an infrastructure that rivaled every other country in the world — an Interstate Highway System that connected our nation, created jobs and propelled our economy into the future.

We inherited a world-class infrastructure from the Greatest Generation. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

As members of Congress, we believe it’s time to rebuild our country again with a big, bold 21st-century infrastructure package — because in today’s world, Illinoisans and Iowans are always on the move. But the infrastructure we move on — our roads, bridges and waterways — is crumbling.

For years, Congress has seriously neglected our nation’s infrastructure — and it’s our communities, particularly here in the Heartland, that are paying the price.

Years of underinvestment show in the quality of our roads and the safety of our bridges. Farmers see it in our outdated locks and dams that get goods to market. And consumers also see it in their bank accounts. Crumbling roads cause damage to our cars and create inefficiencies that lead to wasted gas and time lost at the office or at home with our families.

In fact, Congress’ inaction on infrastructure costs each family more than $3,000 per year.

That’s why House Democrats believe Americans deserve a 21st-century transportation network — and we’re committed to getting a bill across the finish line. Because in America, mediocre isn’t an option. Families shouldn’t settle for anything but the best.

We need modern aviation systems and world-class airports; safe, clean and reliable drinking water; broadband access in every community; and a transportation network that efficiently and reliably distributes goods throughout our nation.

Here on the Mississippi River, we’re especially mindful of the failure to make long-term investments in locks, dams and other infrastructure that’s so necessary to our agricultural economy and protects our homes and businesses from increasingly extreme weather.

Finally, in Illinois and Iowa, we have some of the most structurally deficient bridges in the country — putting drivers at risk and causing delays for emergency vehicles and trucks moving our products to consumers. Making these investments the right way would create good-paying jobs and grow our economy.

The Midwest has always been a great place to live, work and raise a family — and it’s important to both of us that folks can stay in the communities they love and call home. Investing in a comprehensive infrastructure package is a big part of that.

This isn’t a partisan issue — and we will work with Republicans, Democrats and the White House to deliver on this promise to the American people. As Infrastructure Week comes to a close, let’s think big and rebuild our country again.

Bustos, who has represented Illinois’ 17th District since 2013, serves on the House Appropriations and Agriculture committees. Finkenauer, of Dubuque, has served Iowa’s 1st District since January and sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Small Business committees.