The democratic members of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee took the initiative to lay out their priorities for a future infrastructure package. Those priorities, totaling over $500 billion, are included in a July 21, 2017 EPW Minority Letter on Infrastructure to Chairman Barrasso (WY). They include only the types of infrastructure which are under EPW’s jurisdiction, but the Senators do make clear their desire to see a comprehensive infrastructure package that would extend well beyond EPW’s purview. As well the letter specifies the need for direct federal investments rather than relying on private financing. Interestingly, within the list of priorities is a proposal for $25 billion for resiliency for extreme weather events.
Perhaps even more interestingly, is a new sort of code that seems to be popping up in letters such as this during the Trump Administration. Whereas a year ago the Senate might have referenced climate change and the need to plan for and protect from such changes, this letter is silent on that topic. Instead, the Senators use the word extreme four times and resiliency three times, with an occasional severe or significant thrown in. A careful reading shows that climate change is the concept, but the nomenclature has changed in light of the current politics. Fortunately, whether climate change is a good word or a bad word in the home of Washington DC politicians, responding to floods and investing in infrastructure seems to be a safe place for them all to land.
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