Making Infrastructure a Top Priority in Washington

Written by  Jimmy Christianson

As we set off in this new year, we face many familiar challenges: turmoil in Washington, D.C., economic uncertainty and a presidential election cycle. The commonality among these challenges is the opportunity they present AGC and our construction industry to advance our priorities: passing a robust and long-term infrastructure bill, significantly increasing revenues for the Highway Trust Fund to fund current and future transportation needs and improving the pipeline for recruiting and developing the construction workforce.

You may wonder—how it is possible to be optimistic after the longest federal government (partial) shutdown? This January, 101 members of the House and 10 in Senate took the oath of office for the first time. A clear majority of these new U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators noted that they wanted to achieve bipartisan solutions to solving infrastructure issues. In fact, many of their long-tenured colleagues agree that rebuilding America’s infrastructure is one of the few common ground issues where the new Congress could achieve wide-ranging success.

Let’s face it, there’s going to have to be a political “make-up” period. Finger-pointing—while our borders remain less than fully secured, those whose duty it is to secure them go weeks without pay and state transportation departments delay or cancel lettings—does not translate into landslide electoral victories. Ultimately, Congress and President Trump are expected to deliver results.

And, AGC of America is prepared to push them to enact those results. Your national association has already undertaken several pro-infrastructure social media campaigns targeting President Trump and new members of Congress. These campaigns have a simple message: make infrastructure a top, bipartisan priority.

We’ve been on the ground as well. AGC has hosted many new members of Congress—including Dan Crenshaw (TX-2), Lance Gooden (TX-5) and Chip Roy (TX-21)—at the AGC Townhouse on Capitol Hill. Our lobbying team conducts dozens of meetings a week with the throngs of new congressional staffers in both the House and Senate—including those on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, respectfully. And, we continue to gather and mobilize the broader business community through the AGC and National Association of Manufacturers’ Infrastructure Working Group.

On the workforce side of the equation, it is undoubted in this new Congress that the construction industry will face similar opportunities and challenges. Border security and immigration policy will remain a key point of contention, which the possibility for some compromises along the way. Paid parental leave will be a topic of discussion in the halls of Congress as well—especially since its one of President Trump’s 2016 campaign promises and a top issue for his daughter Ivanka. As with all paid leave mandates, AGC will oppose any that do not accommodate the uniqueness of the construction industry and its workforce design.

Nevertheless, what will ultimately determine the industry’s success in these debates is the engagement of you as members. No plan, no campaign and no strategy is effective in achieving results without you. We look forward to taking our industry’s objectives across the finish line in 2019 with your help.

Jimmy Christianson is AGC of America’s Vice President of Government Affairs

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