The Infrastructure Crisis Meets the 'Perfect Storm': Time for a National Infrastructure Bank!

Decades of underfunding our infrastructure, of relying upon a patchwork and reactive approaches has slammed into reality. Our nation faces unprecedented extreme weather events and other challenges from coast to coast which threaten our well-being.

Thus far, the response of Congress has been inadequate. Where the need for new infrastructure investment is $5 trillion or more, the Senate’s “Infrastructure and Jobs Act” proposes just $550 billion of new spending. While we support this, it lands far short of the mark.

We, the undersigned, are rallying our citizens to demand that Congress respond to this crisis in a way which is appropriate: The establishment of a large, $5 trillion National Infrastructure Bank (NIB), as outlined in HR 3339, which is before the current session of Congress.

This $5 trillion public bank does not rely upon the appropriations process. It does not require new federal taxes and will not increase our deficit. By repurposing existing Treasury debt, as was done previously in U.S. history, it will finance everything we need, and quickly. We will be able to build multiple layers at the same time, such as water, sewer, rail, power, all of which inhabit the same space.

Infrastructure requires concerted federal action. We need a new power grid, a new high speed rail system, and large-scale water projects like those last erected under President Franklin Roosevelt.  

The impact of Hurricane Ida on Pennsylvania exposed the infrastructure breakdown crisis in our great state. We were left with unnecessary death and destruction.

The cost of fixing our infrastructure in the Keystone State is daunting. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, some of the urgent problems include:

  • 43% of roadways owned by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) have fair or poor roadway surfaces.
  • Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation with 3,353 structurally deficient bridges needing monitoring and repair.
  • In 2020, Philadelphia was the second-most congested city in America and the fifth-most congested in the world. Traffic congestion presently results in over $3.7 billion annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
  • Wastewater collection and treatment has an anticipated funding gap of $8.4 billion over the next 10 years for repairing or upgrading current systems.
  • All cities must replace lead service lines, which will cost billions.
  • Drinking water has a projected funding gap of $10.2 billion.
  • High speed rail service on the Northeast Corridor and the east-west Keystone Line is necessary, will require billions of dollars, but the return will be far greater.

Only the National Infrastructure Bank can address this staggering need. It will create tens of millions of new jobs, pay Davis-Bacon wages and mandate Buy American policies. The NIB will supercharge the U.S. economy, and reopen American industry. It will ensure robust minority hiring, promote disadvantaged business enterprises, and spawn a resurgence of small business.

It is better to think 50 years from now, and where we will need to be, as we repair and upgrade the current system. China spends 8% of its GDP on infrastructure; Europe 5% and we spend barely 2%. Is it any wonder that our infrastructure is ranked 13th in the world?

Resolutions of endorsement for this National Infrastructure Bank have been initiated, and in many cases passed, across the nation including: Pennsylvania General Assembly (both houses); City and County Councils: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, Allegheny and Northampton County Councils; Northern Tier Central Labor Council, and labor and business organizations.

People are fed up with “the same old same old!” We urge everyone to support HR 3339 and contact your Congressional representative to enlist their sponsorship of this measure.

Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, District 121, Wilkes-Barre

Rep. John Galloway, District 140, Levittown

Rep. Joanna McClinton, District 191, Philadelphia

Rep. Ed Neilson, District 174, Philadelphia

Sen. Lisa Boscola, District 18, Bethlehem

Sen. Jay Costa, District 43, Pittsburgh

Sen. John Kane, District 9, Chester

Sen. Christine Tartaglione, District 2, Philadelphia

Rep. Nick Pisciottano, District 38, Pittsburgh

Rep. Kyle Mullins, District 112, Olyphant

Rep. MaryLouise Isaacson, District 175, Philadelphia

Rep. Joe Ciresi, District 146, Limerick

Rep. Mary Jo Daley, District 148, Conshohocken

Rep. Joseph Hohenstein, District 177, Philadelphia

Rep. Darisha Parker, District 198, Philadelphia

Rep. Steven Malagari, District 53, Landsdale

Rep. Dan Williams, District 74, Thorndale

Rep. Benjamin Sanchez, District 153, Abingdon

Rep. Melissa Shusterman, District 157, Paoli 

Rep. James Roebuck (ret.), Philadelphia

Anita Prizio, Allegheny County Councilwoman, District 3, O’Hara Township

Janet Diaz Temin, Lancaster City Councilwoman, Lancaster

Liz Allen, Erie City Councilwoman, Erie

Randy Beightol, President, Northern Tier Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, Williamsport

Matt Munsey, Chair, Northampton County Democratic Party

Laura Quick, Teamsters Local 775, At-Large member, Pennsylvania Democratic Committee, Lebanon

Lisa D’Italia, Assistant Director, District 8, Pennsylvania Federation of Democratic Women, Allentown

Jack Hanna, former Treasurer and Interim Chairman, Pennsylvania Democratic Committee