NY-22 Minute: Infrastructure A Top Priority for Brindisi Luke Perry

NY-22 Minute: Infrastructure A Top Priority for Brindisi Luke Perry

Anthony Brindisi recently participated in several media interviews after securing victory in NY-22. Yesterday Brindisi told Don Shipman at WKTV that he exchanged texts with Representative Tenney and “wants a very smooth transition.” Tenney has not conceded, though recognized victory is unlikely, expressed interest in helping Brindisi effectively transition into office, and suggested that she owes it to her supporters to wait until all the votes are formally counted before conceding.

Brindisi identified infrastructure as one of his top legislative priorities come January. The incoming Congressman believes there is bipartisan support for fixing roads, bridges, energy and water systems. Brindisi raised this issue throughout his campaign, often in agreement with President Trump, who called for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill during the 2016 campaign.

 Photo by Getty

Photo by Getty

The president released a 53 page infrastructure plan in February that called for $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending, but the federal government would pay only $200 billion. The rest of the money would come from state and local governments.

The plan stalled as Democrats opposed its heavy reliance on states, localities, and private sector spending. The Democratic counter proposal emphasized $1 trillion in federal infrastructure spending and an estimated 16 million new jobs.

“On issues where I can find common ground with the president, like transportation and infrastructure spending, or bringing down the cost of prescription drugs, I’m very much going to work with the president and members on the other side of the aisle. If there are policies he’s putting forward that I think are going to hurt this country or harm this region, then I’m going to stand up against the president.”
— Anthony Brindisi

During the 2016 campaign, Trump’s proposed $1 trillion in infrastructure spending mirrored Bernie Sanders and exceeded Hillary Clinton. Trump said the plan would be paid for with an infrastructure fund financed through government bonds investors and citizens could purchase.

Nancy Pelosi, the likely next Speaker of the House, recently welcomed working with the president on infrastructure. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that infrastructure will be a legislative priority for the Republican-controlled Senate.

“Last night I had a conversation with President Trump about how we could work together, one of the issues that came up was ... building infrastructure for America, and I hope that we can achieve that. He talked about it during his campaign and really didn’t come through with it in his first two years in office. But that issue has not been a partisan issue in the Congress of the United States.”
— Nancy Pelosi following 2018 election

The deficit grew over 20 percent between 2017 and 2018 as unified Republican government cut taxes and increased spending by 4.4 percent. It remains to be seen if infrastructure is enough of a GOP priority to further increase federal spending.

Moreover, Congressional Republicans just campaigned on low unemployment and the president recently stated he did not believe the government’s recent climate report. Framing an infrastructure bill as a public works program that helps mitigate the effects of climate change, as Democrats have, will probably have limited crossover appeal.  

Still, House Democrats will likely pass an infrastructure bill at some point. What to look for is whether this occurs in cooperation with Senate Republicans. If not, Leader McConnell is unlikely to schedule a vote and the bill will be mostly symbolic.

Another big question is whether Trump will reconnect with his campaign stance or stick with his presidential position. The Democrats may strike a deal on how much to spend, but this amount would likely have to be much closer to $1 trillion than $200 billion.

There is typically some positive discussion of bipartisanship after an election creating divided government, but then political realities then set in, particularly with a presidential campaign looming. However infrastructure talks proceed there will need to be clear advantages for both parties, and the president, for legislation to emerge.

 Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College. 

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