Cross-party calls for US infrastructure bill to pass quickly

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Pete Buttigieg and Troy Balderson tell ACEC that bill could pass before Memorial Day.

Pete Buttigieg, the US secretary of transport, has called for rapid implementation of president Biden’s infrastructure bill to reflect the public’s bipartisan support.

Speaking at the annual conference of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Buttigieg declared his enthusiasm for the $2.25trn infrastructure investment, saying it wasn’t “just proposing to build back to where we were in 2019. This is about looking ahead to the next 50 years.”

The challenge now is to ensure the bill passes into law, though he expressed confidence about this and called on Congress to put together and pass legislation by Memorial Day, stressing “If there is any area for bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill, this has to be it,” Buttigieg said.

Speaking at the same conference, Republican Troy Balderson said that passing legislation by Memorial Day was now realistic. The member of the House transportation and infrastructure committee responded to a question, saying: “Is it doable? Absolutely it’s doable.”

Balderson, however, said the bill should be limited to “traditional infrastructure” such as roads, bridges, water, and airports. This was central to the Republican Party’s counter-proposal to Biden’s plan which amounts to €568bn of spending.

Balderson was speaking on the ACEC’s congressional panel and was joined by Democrat congressman Dwight Evans from Pennsylvania who said he preferred the broader reach of the Biden plan that includes sectors like education because he felt that was vital to meeting the “competitiveness and needs of the country”.

ACEC’s annual conference took place virtually this year.