Until now, for presidential candidates, infrastructure has been a quick soundbite in debates, a sentence in economic development plans, or a proposal overshadowed by other issues Americans care about from healthcare to education. However, as the Nevada and South Carolina caucuses inch near, candidates took time out of their nonstop schedules to stress the urgent need to modernize our nation’s bridges, rail and transit systems, water systems, and more during President’s Day weekend at the first-ever presidential candidates forum focused solely on infrastructure. Hosted by the nonprofit nonpartisan organization, United for Infrastructure – of which ASCE is a host committee member – presidential candidates Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and businessman Tom Steyer pitched their infrastructure plans and answered questions in front of 500-plus unions and trade association
members. They had one aligning message amongst all the campaigns: it is time to repair and upgrade our nation’s aging infrastructure Read more about the event here and learn about the candidates plans that focus on tangible policy solutions for our nation’s bridges, water systems, and other infrastructure assets.
“Moving America Forward: A Presidential Candidate Forum on Infrastructure, Jobs, and Building a Better America” took place at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Sunday,
February 16, was live broadcast on CSPAN, and moderated by The Wall Street Journal’s Executive Washington Editor Jerry Seib and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Jeanne Cummings. The forum also included questions from voters from Nevada and across the nation — including ASCE members, who submitted questions online. Candidates were asked how their infrastructure agendas will improve communities, strengthen the economy, create jobs and promote safety and national security. Former Vice President Joe Biden name-dropped ASCE in his responses. Highlighted quotes from the candidates include:
“We’ve gotta get back to the basics. We need to make sure federal funding actually goes to fixing our existing infrastructure.” – Former Mayor Pete Buttigeig
“Keeping our citizens safe and shared prosperity is the government’s job – and infrastructure gets us there.” – Senator Amy Klobuchar
“This is why I have a $2 trillion infrastructure plan – we need federal investment in a climate-smart way.” – Tom Steyer
“We can fix the old infrastructure in a modern way” – Former Vice President Joe Biden
The discussion ranged from the future of the Highway Trust Fund to poor drinking water infrastructure in schools, and included questions submitted by Nevada voters, WSJ subscribers, as well as ASCE, labor and association members. All leading candidates were invited to participate in the forum. Media coverage appeared in Engineering News Record, CBS, NBC, and more. Additionally –ASCE Senior Managing Director Casey Dinges was interviewed on the United for Infrastructure podcast, sent to all presidential candidates invited to the forum, on ASCE’s federal infrastructure priorities.
A recent poll of voters in key swing states found broad support for infrastructure: 89% of voters agree that infrastructure is a unique opportunity for politicians to set aside partisan debates and actually work together to get something done, and 68% think politicians in Washington devote too little attention to providing clean air and water to the next generation and repairing our roads, bridges and public transportation system. 91% support bold federal investment over the next decade to rebuild and modernize America’s infrastructure. Support for a national infrastructure plan is consistent across demographic groups, including rural and suburban voters. ASCE had the largest membership showing out of any host committee member, with members from the ASCE Nevada Section attending and volunteering, in addition to members from California, Utah, Colorado, and Massachusetts. In addition, both ASCE 2021 President-Elect candidates attended. ASCE Past President Kristina Swallow and ASCE Senior Managing Director Casey Dinges represented ASCE leadership and had a chance to meet with all participating candidates.
Missed the forum? You may view for free on CSPAN.org.