As infrastructure becomes a higher-profile national issue, a new coalition has taken shape, aiming to promote investment in transportation, energy, water and broadband systems and calling for both direct federal spending and public-private partnerships.
In announcing the Feb. 13 launch of the Coalition to Modernize American Infrastructure, former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters that U.S. infrastructure needs an estimated $3.3 trillion. He said the coalition members believe “it is essential that the momentum for an infrastructure solution continue.”
Initial members of the coalition, which was facilitated by the Bipartisan Policy Council (BPC), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Governors Association, the North America’s Building Trades Unions, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, and the Business Roundtable.
Cantor, now vice chairman and managing director of Moelis & Co., a New York City-based investment bank, added that the coalition also supports “a predictable and sustained federal commitment to infrastructure” that “must be robust and reliable over the long term.”
Douglas Peterson, CEO of S&P Global, said that, although the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act has been a plus for highways and transit, “a sustainable funding path has yet to be addressed.” Peterson, co-chair of BPC’s executive council on infrastructure, noted, “Uncertainty at the federal level has cascading effects throughout the system.” (ENR for many years was owned by S&P Global’s predecessor company, McGraw-Hill Inc., which later was renamed McGraw Hill Financial.)
Further, the coalition states that a new infrastructure program must include private-sector investment. Peterson said pension funds and other investors “are looking for the type of long-term, reliable investment returns that infrastructure often provides.”
The group recommends speeding up permitting and government-agency approvals for projects. Cantor, a member of the BPC infrastructure council, said, “We need to do a better job of bringing new infrastructure into service more quickly.”
Several other organizations have signed on, including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and Building America’s Future.
Absent from the list are major engineering, construction and transportation groups, which also have been pushing for years for increased infrastructure funding.