Both sides must give a little to pass desperately needed infrastructure legislation

York Dispatch editorial board
Work is shown being done the Neville Island Bridge preservation project near Pittsburgh. The bridge carries Interstate 79 over the Ohio River. Legislation is in Congress to improve our nation's infrastructure. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
  • The U.S. had 22 climate and weather disasters in 2020 as of July 9.
  • Hurricane Ida and its remnants will likely cost in the tens of billions, analysts say.
  • Climate change is only worsening our nation's aging infrastructure system.

If there is anything that Republicans and Democrats can generally agree upon, it’s this: Our nation’s aging infrastructure system is in desperate need of drastic and immediate improvement.

The recent devastation caused by Hurricane Ida to power lines, roads, bridges, subways and other infrastructure only highlighted that need.

Our nation’s economy is totally dependent on a solid and working infrastructure. If we don’t start to improve it soon, we risk a slow but sure economic decline.

As always, however, the devil is in the details.

Three main questions must be answered: How much? How will we pay for it? And what constitutes infrastructure?

More:Lawmakers: Ida Damage Shows Need For Infrastructure Upgrades

Democrats insist the Ida catastrophe is the latest example of why the nation needs the nearly trillion-dollar infrastructure bill passed by the Senate last month. Democrats also are calling for passage of President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion, partisan rebuilding plan aimed at helping families and combating climate change.

The climate change issue: Mentioning climate change and infrastructure in the same breath is sure to raise the hackles of the more conservative Republicans, who are in complete, and unreasonable, denial about the existence of climate change, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

Addressing infrastructure, without also addressing climate change, is an exercise in futility. They must go hand in hand.

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Additionally, the right wing of the Republican party is reluctant to work with the Biden administration on any policies, for fear of giving him anything resembling a political victory. Their eyes are clearly on the next election instead of our current problems. It’s a classic case of putting party above country.

Compromise is necessary: That’s why Democrats must work hard to attract support from the more moderate wing of the Republican party, who at least acknowledge that climate change is real and are willing to work in a bipartisan manner.

That, of course, will require some compromise among the Democrats, which is a nonstarter for the more ardent progressives in that party.

Democrats are hoping to pass both bills by the end of this month, but action on the bipartisan bill may be difficult until the larger package is ready. Progressives have said they won’t support a bipartisan bill without strong companion legislation to advance their priorities.

Well, it’s fairly obvious that the progressives aren’t going to get action on all of their priorities. That’s the way legislative compromise works, especially since the more conservative Democratic members of Congress are not fully supportive of the expensive partisan bill.

Ultimately, cooler Congressional heads will have to prevail, and the moderates on both sides will have to lead the way.

Something must be done: In this case, doing something is much better than doing nothing. Inaction is simply unacceptable.

Especially given the frightening statistics recently reported on by the Associated Press. The U.S. had 22 climate and weather disasters in 2020 with losses exceeding $1 billion each, with eight such disasters this year as of July 9, according to NOAA. Ida and its remnants will likely cost in the tens of billions, analysts say.

Those numbers are only likely to increase as climate change worsens.

The time is now to pass some much-needed infrastructure improvements. We can’t afford to wait any longer. To do that, both sides must give a little. We can’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

Because failure is not an option.