By Dennis Slater, AEM President

InfrastructureIn less than 100 days, voters will make their voices heard by deciding whether or not the vast majority of Congress returns to work in 2021. In what’s been a tough year for many Americans and the U.S. economy, many Republican and Democratic candidates are increasingly spending time these days trying to convince their constituents that they’ve done their jobs. 

With so many pressing issues still in need of attention, including COVID-19 relief and social justice reform, it will no doubt be a tough task. Fortunately, there is still time left in this year’s legislative calendar, and there is one action that they can all take before hitting the campaign trail: a long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure. It will not only help our nation’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will also strengthen American manufacturing and provide much-needed employment opportunities, while boosting both red and blue state economies across the country. 

Take action today by visiting I Make America and urge your elected officials to invest in our nation's infrastructure.  

There is no question the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the U.S. economy. With the U.S. unemployment rate still higher than in any period since World War II, many Americans are still wondering how they’re going to put food on the table for their families today or pay rent next month.  

The crisis also hit our economy at a time when our nation’s elected officials have kicked the legislative can on infrastructure way too far down the road. For example, the federal surface transportation program, the primary way federal funding is deployed to build and improve our nation’s roads, highways, and bridges, is set to expire on Sept. 30. While the U.S. House of Representatives passed its five-year highway and public transit bill to re-fund the federal surface transportation program, Republicans and Democrats still have work to do to get a final bill to the President’s desk. 

Infrastructure is the backbone of America’s economy. Maintaining and improving our nation’s infrastructure is how we keep the lights on in our homes and hospitals, how food travels from farmers’ fields to family dinner tables, and how first responders get to those in need. It is also a major job creator. The 2.8 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry, who make up 12 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the U.S., are the ones who build the cranes, excavators, and paving machines needed to build our infrastructure.  

Let’s not forget, U.S. manufacturing is also hurting. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic dismantled the U.S. economy, the manufacturing sector owned the smallest share of the U.S. economy since before Truman upset Dewey in the 1948 election. That’s resulted in a serious decline of America’s share of global manufacturing, falling by about 35 percent in the past 15 years.  

However, Congress can address both the decline in U.S. manufacturing and the much-needed investment in our nation’s infrastructure.  A new poll conducted by Morning Consult and released this week shows eight out of ten registered U.S. voters say they are more likely to choose candidates this fall who support investing in our nation’s roads, highways, bridges, and other critically-needed infrastructure projects as part of a pro-manufacturing platform.  

In 2018 and 2016 (and in elections prior), voters heard from candidates on the right and the left about how they promised to finally do something significant when it comes to modernizing our nation’s infrastructure. Some pledged to “fix the damn roads,” while others promised to build “gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land.” Sadly, we are right back where we started with no serious progress to show for it. 

Now, Washington lawmakers can stop kicking the can and take action today. It’s time to pass comprehensive infrastructure legislation so that we can strengthen American manufacturing and rebuild our economy. 

Subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor for more AEM staff perspectives.

×