For a candidate looking to make a splash with a jobs plan, the words “repair,” “crumbling,” and “infrastructure” in some combination usually makes for a good applause line.
Here’s Hillary Clinton at an event in Massachusetts on Monday: "To build a strong economy for our future, we must start by building strong infrastructure today." Bernie Sanders has compared low spending on infrastructure to the cost of the Iraq War. Even Donald Trump boasted on Twitter “I know how to build, other pols only know how to talk” after a deadly Amtrak crash last spring.
With the passage of a five-year, $305 billion transportation bill, Congress says it’s addressed the problem—for now.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act is the first long-term transportation bill in more than a decade, offering a measure of security for state agencies and even slightly increasing spending. In a joint statement, the bill’s Senate and House sponsors said the bill “provides long-term certainty for states and local governments, and good reforms and improvements to the programs that sustain our roads, bridges, transit, and passenger-rail system.”
After dealing with the transportation reauthorization bills on-and-off for the better part of a decade (since 2005, Congress has passed more than 30 short-term extensions, the longest one just 18 months), the issue will finally be off the floor for several years. So does this make infrastructure an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue?