The Hill: Blue Dogs look to move forward on infrastructure project
Top members of the centrist Democrat Blue Dog Coalition are holding out hope for bipartisan accomplishments on pressing infrastructure projects.
Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Ariz.) the group’s co-chairman for policy, and Reps. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), the co-chairs on its task force on infrastructure and job creation, in a letter on Monday requested input from think tanks, labor, environmental groups, small business groups and the business community on regulatory reform and policy solutions.
“Earlier this year, the Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to House Democratic leadership calling on Congress to prioritize fixing our nation's crumbling infrastructure. Our constituents sent us to Congress to deliver on our promise to fix our nation's crumbling infrastructure-no progress is not an option," the lawmaker wrote.
“Americans are tired of the partisan feuding, and they rightfully expect both the President and Congress to do their jobs—and that's to govern,” they added.
“If both parties cannot come together on a bold, bipartisan infrastructure package and a way to pay for it, then it is incumbent on Congress to focus on areas of potential agreement: addressing projects that have been paid for and continue to be held up by red tape.”
The lawmakers said they are looking for ways to streamline regulations while ensuring environmental standards are maintained, noting that they feel it’s critical to get bills to the president’s desk to fix the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure.”
“In the coming weeks and months, the Blue Dogs will explore ways we can address the most urgent projects and spur a serious, bipartisan discussion on how to improve infrastructure regulation,” they wrote.
“As we move forward with our policy process, we encourage our stakeholders, including you, to participate and send us your priorities when it comes to regulatory improvement and addressing our most urgent projects.”
The letter follows a deal in principle between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and President Trump to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure, which fell through earlier this year.
“This is the start of a larger policy process for the Blue Dog Coalition leading up to an announcement in the months ahead on Coalition-backed regulatory improvement policies,” a senior aide associated with the Blue Dogs told The Hill.
“The Blue Dogs believe that if both parties cannot agree on a larger infrastructure package or a way to pay for it, then Congress should focus on what it can get done — and that focuses on projects that are already paid for, adhere to important environmental standards, and yet continue to be held up by red tape.”