Unlike many other issues in the capital, politics was not the major obstacle. Infrastructure is famously nonpartisan in Washington, where both sides of the aisle regularly exchange ideas on transportation, water, and broadband policy. At different times over the past three years, House and Senate leadership expressed support for putting infrastructure debates on the legislative calendar.
We would suggest a different culprit. Washington could not deliver reform because Congress and the administration failed to commit to a process to rethink and redesign current law. Key parties agreed to do something, but they never actually debated what that something should be. Three years later, there is still no clarity on what “reform” even means.
To enact genuine reform—legislation that completely reshapes the government’s approach to infrastructure programming, funding, and regulation—federal leaders must be willing to revisit the fundamental goals the country’s infrastructure systems intend to achieve and honestly assess whether current policies share those objectives.