Why it matters: Our national economy thrives in part because of the efforts to inter-connect the United States throughout its history. The ability to efficiently move goods and services across the country is a critical factor as to why the U.S. has been able to compete and thrive within the global marketplace.

Where I stand: As my colleagues and I on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee develop legislation to address our nation’s infrastructure needs, we are stressing to the administration that it is time to broaden the scope of traditional infrastructure investment.

The traditional three R’s of infrastructure must certainly be a major focus of the overall infrastructure plan. There are several reasons for us to invest seriously in our roads, rails and runways in the immediate future.

At the top of the list is safety. Some of our roads and bridges are actually beginning to crumble and deteriorate. We’ve employed temporary measures that have succeeded in repairing and rebuilding many of these deficiencies in the short term, but upgrading and enhancing them is a better and more cost-effective long-term solution. There is also an economic reason as well. The quality of a state’s infrastructure is near the top of the list of factors that business owners consider when deciding where to locate a business or enterprise. 

However, we can’t lose sight of the fact that solutions to our infrastructure needs go well beyond the traditional focus. Fixing these problems often require innovative approaches, like the provision I authored in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 to help communities of all sizes, in every state, secure loans to modernize critical water infrastructure. 

The need to expand the way we think about infrastructure is the reason I serve as a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus. Our goal is to ensure that initiatives to promote the deployment of high-speed, reliable broadband for all Americans are included as part of our infrastructure agenda.

Our infrastructure needs can’t be a partisan issue. Now is the time to push ahead and make sensible, productive investments in our nation’s infrastructure. Doing so now will ultimately save money in the long-term. It will also help our economy grow and equip our country to remain competitive in the global economy in the years ahead.