After a year of devastating tornadoes that ripped through neighborhoods and flash floods that left roads and bridges underwater, Tennesseans are no strangers to deteriorating infrastructure. Even as many parents and workers are still navigating floodwaters to find reliable paths to school and work, Democrats in Washington have proposed a sweeping infrastructure plan that promises to overhaul nearly every aspect of American transportation. But buyer beware — the left’s agenda includes everything but a solution for the Volunteer State.
Biden’s massive $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan aims to overhaul America’s infrastructure via massive handouts for idealistic projects covering everything from public transportation to electric vehicles. Though bill ambassadors appointed by the White House are singing its praises, less than six% of the plan actually funds traditional infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, ports, airports, and waterways. What’s worse, the liberal wish list items that make up the majority of this proposal will come by imposing the largest tax hike in nearly three decades.
There is no denying that our local roads need repair or that commuters are begging for highway expansions. However, no workable solution will rely on crushing tax increases or cause our federal deficit to skyrocket in the midst of ongoing economic recovery.
One alternative solution is the Paving the Way for Rural Communities Act of 2021, which I introduced to overcome the barriers that often prevent rural communities from improving their infrastructure in the first place. Federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), add cost and complexity as local governments work with federal agencies on highway construction and economic development projects.
These laws not only hinder investment in rural communities but also allow urban counties to gain a disproportionate advantage on federal infrastructure projects. My legislation is a tax-free alternative to level the playing field for local governments and tangibly improve our nation’s roads, bridges, and highways.
Volunteer State families know that we need to improve America’s infrastructure. We also know that the American Jobs Plan is an overly broad pipe dream that ignores real need in favor of narrative-satisfying pet projects. As our state recovers from a year of terrible natural disasters, I will continue to push my colleagues in Washington to embrace policies that provide real solutions, not partisan wish lists.
Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.