On Monday, November 15, President Joe Biden put his signature on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, making it law.
This event was met with relatively little fanfare, taking place in the midst of a news cycle that was laser-focused on inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, and the twin spectacle of two separate murder trials, both of self-styled right-wing vigilantes.
Those stories were important, too — but for all the wrong reasons. We all know bad news sells… “If it bleeds, it leads,” as the cynical old newspapermen liked to say.
But the good news of this $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure act is infinitely more captivating than last week’s bad news. Its positive long-term potential has the power to transform this country for the better. This is a massive win for all of us.
In fact, I believe this could be the most important piece of legislation passed in the United States in multiple generations. It’s the largest investment in American public works since President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which created the interstate highway system that connected the country and forever revolutionized U.S. commerce and travel.
Some thought this infrastructure act would never even materialize, let alone succeed. After decades of buck-passing and can-kicking from our political leaders, many Americans had simply given up on the matter. We got used to our out-of-date, neglected, and increasingly dangerous infrastructure. We began to look at our vintage public works as crumbling monuments to a bygone era when our society took pride in its craftsmanship and commitment to the public good.
That all changes right now, with this act. For the first time in decades, essential infrastructure will be a serious priority that’s treated with the urgency and approached with the vigor it deserves and so desperately needs.
We will begin to fix our crumbling bridges and roads. We will have safe and clean municipal drinking water systems again, and that’s barely just scratching the surface.
One of the most exciting aspects of the infrastructure program is that those of us in the building trades will be key ambassadors leading this transformation. And who better than us? After all, we already understand how critical it is to invest in human infrastructure over the long-term, from apprenticeship to journeyman status.
Thanks to this infrastructure act, we will have long-term, well-paying jobs working good public works projects. The depth, range, and quality of our skilled-and-trained workforce will be on full display, and the built results will speak for themselves. We are the people who will get infrastructure done right, no question.
It’s more than just dollars invested and projects completed, though. This act stands to get us back to a long-lost sense of good faith among government, unions, and the general public. We can show our country that, with an alliance forged in improving infrastructure, we can indeed all work together to be a force for good, improving economic opportunities and quality of life for all Americans.
Credit for making the infrastructure plan a reality is owed to Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and our hometown congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, not to mention all the other politicians who worked their tails off, stood by their word, and always stuck to their guns.
Our rank-and-file members who volunteered are worthy of high praise. To those of you who wrote letters, made phone calls, sent texts and organized to win this bill: You were essential. You took it to the next level. You put that extra pressure on that put it over the top.
So, let’s take a moment to pat ourselves on the back for winning this one — because this is really a big, consequential win. But remember: Even though we got infrastructure passed, the fight goes on. We must realize the full Build Back Better agenda and win the PRO ACT. And you know we’ll stay at it until the job is done.