In the past two weeks both major U.S. political parties have held conventions to formally nominate a presidential candidate and talk about their respective visions for the country. Here’s how each party handled infrastructure:
The Republican Party held its National Convention first in Cleveland, Ohio the week of July 18. While the city was selected as the host in part because of its transit offerings, the GOP’s approved party platform statement is none-too-kind to public transportation infrastructure. The platform’s “America on the Move” section (found on page 4) is the only part that discusses infrastructure at great length. The solution identified to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure is to take transit funding out of the Highway Trust Fund—an idea that has been attempted and failed in the past—and eliminate the federal transit program. In addition, it states “With most of the states increasing their own funding for transportation, we oppose a further increase in the federal gas tax.” However, it does not offer specifics on how to address the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
The platform also includes mention of the nation’s waterways and the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule (found on page 18). The position states “We must never allow federal agencies to seize control of state waters, watersheds, or groundwater. State waters, watersheds, and groundwater must be the purview of the sovereign states.”
The republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has spoken several times over the course of the campaign on the need to invest in the nation ‘s infrastructure. In Mr. Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night he specifically referenced the nation’s roads’, bridges’, and airports’ poor condition. During the week’s events, a few speakers did mention infrastructure in passing including actress Kimberlin Brown, however it was not a major focus of anyone’s policy speeches.
This week the Democratic Party gathered in Philadelphia for its national convention. The Democratic Party Platform offers far more mentions and details regarding improving the nation’s infrastructure, including a section titled “Building 21st Century Infrastructure” (found on page 7), which specifically calls out the idea of a national infrastructure bank. In other sections of the platform, infrastructure improvements are referenced as a way to increase safety, build a clean energy economy, and strengthened cities.
During the convention, several speakers discussed infrastructure, including Flint, Michigan’s Mayor Karen Weaver. During her primary campaign, democratic party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released a detailed infrastructure plan. Her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) referenced roads and bridges in his announcement speech saying “Let’s build bridges and roads and airports and ports so people can have jobs.”
With our nation’s infrastructure most recently receiving a “D+” GPA, it’s good that both parties have been talking about it.