Recurring plans to hold an “Infrastructure Week” have amounted to naught during the Trump administration, and have become something of a running joke even as the nation’s road and bridges continue to crumble and fall into disrepair.
Democratic presidential contender Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) unveiled a comprehensive plan on Thursday to show them how it’s done.
The Minnesota senator introduced a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan — her first major campaign policy proposal since announcing her White House bid last month — that she said would be her top budget priority if elected, drawing a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump.
Trump’s underfunded plan to rebuild the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges “is a mirage and he leaves the details up to lawmakers,” Klobuchar’s campaign wrote in a Medium post outlining her proposals.
“In contrast, Amy has a concrete, common sense proposal that will invest in our future and make sure our country’s infrastructure is second to none,” her Medium post said.
Klobuchar’s plan would include repairing roads, bridges, and highways; increase investment in waterways; and expand public transit.
Klobuchar also outlined plans to rebuilding schools and overhaul housing policy, as well as a commitment to connect every household in the country to the internet by 2022.
The proposal also detailed plans to invest in clean water and includes a section about building “Climate Smart and Green infrastructure.” The section reads somewhat like a less ambitious Green New Deal — the expansive plan championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) that calls for rapid national reductions in carbon use, as well as universal health care and a federal jobs guarantee — which Klobuchar has praised but not endorsed.
“Amy’s plan makes a down payment on transforming our economy from one reliant on fossil fuels to one that depends on clean energy,” the outline says. “That means sweeping legislation that invests in green infrastructure, modernizes our aging energy infrastructure so that it is secure and efficient, strengthens bioenergy capabilities, puts incentives in place to overhaul our building codes, and invests in energy efficiency retrofits and rural renewable energy development.”
Additionally, they write, Klobuchar would help cities and states plan for the impacts of climate change by investing in stronger public transportation and infrastructure.
“This means good-paying jobs for people across the country, investments that ensure cleaner and greener communities and workplaces, and a commitment to doing something real about climate change,” the post says.
Klobuchar is intimately familiar with tragic consequences of not making thorough and timely infrastructure maintenance. Her home state of Minnesota was the scene of a catastrophic collapse in August 2007 of a bridge that spanned the Mississippi. The failure of the eight-lane I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis killed 13 people and injured 145.
Klobuchar’s infrastructure proposal comes after a rocky start for her campaign thanks to a series of stories about her history of mistreating staff, including sending emails berating them and, according to reports, on one occasion throwing a binder at a staffer.
The scandal reached a fever pitch when, in February, The New York Times published a story about Klobuchar eating a salad with a comb, then forcing a staffer to clean it.
Notably, infrastructure has also been mentioned as a priority for Trump, as well. It was one of the first things Trump talked about after winning in 2016, announcing that his administration was going to “rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” which drew rare bipartisan cheers.
And while the administration has certainly paid a lot of lip service to infrastructure, it’s gone nowhere. In his most recent State of the Union address, Trump offered no details, not even a dollar figure, for his infrastructure plan.
“Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” Trump said.
“I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity.”
But following a retreat last January, one anonymous source told The Washington Post what Trump allegedly really thinks about his own plan to boost public-private partnerships to improve infrastructure in the United States, saying, “He doesn’t think they will work.”