Senator Kevin Cramer: Congress Should Put Aside Political Theatrics and Fix Our Nation’s Infrastructure


Rep. Kevin Cramer answers questions from the Grand Forks Herald editorial board Wednesday afternoon. (Joshua Komer/Grand Forks Herald)

This guest post was submitted by North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer. He serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where he is chair of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife; Senate Armed Services Committee; Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senate Banking Committee; and Senate Budget Committee.

Every day, members of Congress seem to be increasingly consumed with the Washington Beltway’s latest gossip or manufactured controversy.

While these often consume media coverage or become the talk of the town, these issues are not why the American people sent us to Washington. They did so to work on their behalf and make progress. One of those issues is improving our nation’s infrastructure.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Even amidst the ever-increasing political theater, we are presented with the ability to pass real reforms making an impact on the lives of our constituents.[/mks_pullquote]

I believe, even in these divided times, infrastructure reform is possible. Why? Because it addresses the real needs of Americans in every state across the country. As evidence, I worked with my colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee to pass the largest highway reauthorization bill in history, and we did so unanimously.

Turning this legislation into law would be a huge win for my state of North Dakota, where our economic success is reliant on getting our energy, agricultural and other products to market. Our legislation maintains the current funding formula that ensures North Dakota receives steady funding and flexibility to prioritize our transportation needs.

As the bill was being written, I reached out to city, county and state leaders asking for their input. They expressed their desire for a highway bill reauthorization that works best for our state, and their priorities are reflected in the bill our committee passed. I appreciate the feedback and priorities they provided, and I submitted their input into the Congressional Record to ensure their voices were heard.

On top of all of that, our highway bill grows the economy, enhances roads and bridges, eliminates burdensome regulations and invests in tribal lands. Those aren’t Democratic or Republican priorities. They are American priorities. With the backing of the President and a strong bipartisan majority in Committee, I hope to see Congress move this legislation quickly.

Building upon that success, EPW has already begun working to compile the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). This biannual bill addresses water infrastructure projects related to ports, inland waterways, levees, dams, wetlands, watersheds and coastal restoration. Again, the needs before us affect all Americans from coast to coast and everything between, and they deserve meaningful progress. Whether it is dealing with flood mitigation or the Army Corps’ disastrous Water Supply proposal, there is bipartisan support for addressing our nation’s water infrastructure because it affects the jobs and livelihoods of the constituents we serve.

Clearly, Congress has the opportunity to make significant advancements and improvements to our nation’s infrastructure. Even amidst the ever-increasing political theater, we are presented with the ability to pass real reforms making an impact on the lives of our constituents. I urge my colleagues to join me in a renewed focus on these many opportunities before us.