By Kerry O’Hare, Vice President and Director of Policy, Building America’s Future
December 20, 2017
For a year that began with such promise, 2017 can best be described as an exercise in waiting for Godot. In case you were wondering, the part of Godot was played by the Administration’s elusive infrastructure proposal. With the inauguration of a new president who made infrastructure a significant part of his campaign, there was great optimism that an infrastructure plan would be forthcoming and considered by Congress in the first 100 days of the new Trump Administration.
Building America’s Future wasted no time and dove into the new year with great enthusiasm, offering policy recommendations to the Administration and key policymakers in Congress. Through events and policy forums, opinion editorials and media interviews, BAF Co-Chairs and staff continued to beat the drum for a well-funded and strategic infrastructure plan.
In particular, we continued to make the case that infrastructure should be a part of any tax reform legislation considered by Congress. Recent history has shown that prior increases in the federal gas tax were included in tax or reconciliation legislation. The need to enact a long-term fix to the Highway Trust Fund is painfully clear as the Congressional Budget Office projects that the Trust Fund will go bankrupt in 2021 if no action is undertaken.
Now that tax reform has been approved, the Trump Administration is promising to release its infrastructure proposal early next year. Regardless, BAF will continue to be at the vanguard of urging immediate and swift action on a long-term infrastructure plan.
Also on tap next year is the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration and legislation to fund the nation’s ports and waterways through the Water Resources Development Act.
The fifth year of Infrastructure Week was a resounding success and continues to build on the achievements of prior years. As a member of Infrastructure Week’s Steering Committee, BAF continued our central role in the strategy and execution of the Week’s coordination and messaging. The numbers are impressive:
- 300 affiliate organizations participated – a 100% increase over 2016
- More than 100 events nationwide – a 50% increase over 2016
- More than 17 million impressions on social media – a 100% increase over 2016
- Over 1,500 letters written to Congress
- Participation by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (3 events), and other leaders from the White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation
- More than 30 Members of Congress participated in events
- Hundreds of Congressional offices visited by I-Week affiliated fly-ins
- Four Congressional hearings held and three major infrastructure bills announced
Among the several events that BAF was a part of, we co-hosted a press conference and media tour of Philadelphia International Airport along with Airport officials and the Airports Council International – North America. Governor Rendell was joined at the press conference by several area Members of Congress including Senator Chris Coons and Representatives Patrick Meehan, Donald Norcross and Brendan Boyle.
Mark your calendar for Infrastructure Week 2018 that will take place May 14 – May 21.
All in all, 2018 is shaping up to be a busy year and BAF will continue to be a key player in moving the infrastructure debate forward.
Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season to all, and a reminder to download and use our free I’m Stuck app as you travel in the days ahead. And here’s to Godot finally showing up in 2018.