There’s interest on Capitol Hill and in the White House in an infrastructure package as part of the coronavirus recovery effort, but that interest will have to overcome the skepticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump tweeted that “with interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time” for a long-awaited infrastructure bill, pitching a “VERY BIG & BOLD” bill with a $2 trillion price tag. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubled down on her interest in the subject on a call with reporters Thursday, saying many infrastructure concerns “are directly related to the coronavirus crisis that we face.”
McConnell has criticized the concept of addressing other policy areas in coronavirus relief legislation, saying on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show earlier this week that he would not “allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items they wouldn’t otherwise be able to pass.”
But infrastructure prioritization remains popular in rural America, and several presidential candidates made it a priority in their campaigns. Of the two remaining Democratic candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan and Sen. Bernie Sanders has pitched infrastructure as a jobs effort.
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“As part of the Green New Deal, we need millions of workers to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure — roads, bridges, drinking water systems, wastewater plants, rail, schools, affordable housing — and build our 100% sustainable energy system,” Sanders’ campaign website reads.
A recent Agri-Pulse poll conducted by Aimpoint Research also asked farmers to rate the importance of several issues on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest). The survey of 600 farmers scored “repairing infrastructure” at 7.92, the fifth-ranked priority among a dozen survey options.
Agriculture infrastructure priorities have long been in areas such as road, bridge, and highway improvements, along with funding for maintenance of the nation’s inland waterways system. But the need for expanded rural broadband has also been discussed as an infrastructure priority.
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