Rebuild Rural Infrastructure Coalition Update

CARH is a member of the Rebuild Rural Infrastructure Coalition. Rebuild Rural is comprised of more than 250 organizations from across the country focused on rural communities, U.S. agricultural producers, rural businesses, and rural families. The Rebuild Rural is dedicated to advocating for investment in rural America’s infrastructure and understands that rural America’s infrastructure needs are fundamentally different.

As Congress departs for the Thanksgiving Recess, several rural infrastructure updates for your consideration:

1) NEW: DEMOCRATS LATEST PUSH ON A LARGER INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE: According to Politico, Democrats are working on a new, $1 trillion infrastructure package, hoping to pick up the pieces from negotiations with the White House in May.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed the initiative at a caucus meeting last Wednesday morning. The Democrats’ plan appears to combine several measures that typically move separately. It includes regularly recurring bills such as a surface transportation bill and a water resources bill while adding other key infrastructure items such as broadband, pipeline safety and possibly items related to schools, housing and parks.  House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio also spoke at the meeting on Wednesday and stated that, “I have provided leadership with a pretty detailed outline of what I’m proposing, and we’re having ongoing discussions,” DeFazio said. “It’s a big price tag.” DeFazio’s committee has been working for months on a surface transportation bill that would form the backbone of this push.  Although, as noted by DeFazio, if the Democrats were to move ahead with this proposal, they hope to include several other infrastructure measures that fall within other committees’ jurisdictions. To read more about this meeting and what could be included in the Democrats infrastructure push, click here. To read more of Chairman DeFazio’s statements on his hopes for a larger infrastructure push, click here.

2) NEW: TIME RUNNING SHORT ON HIGHWAY BILL REAUTHORIZATION AND FUNDING: As part of the 2015 surface transportation law, a rescission measure was included that would decrease funding for state transportation departments by $7.6 billion if Congress doesn’t act by July of 2020.  Many hoped that the current stopgap spending bill or the full fiscal 2020 spending bill (which has yet to be enacted) would ensure continued funding, but the measure failed to join either. Whatever happens next to keep federal transportation programs funded a full-year appropriations bill or another continuing resolution could be that vehicle. To read about the current state of funding for the highway bill, click here.

3) NEW: WATER RESOURCES INFRASTRUCTURE: On Tuesday, November 19th, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing entitled, “Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act: Promoting Resiliency of our Nation’s Water Resources Infrastructure.” Witnesses included: Gerald E. Galloway, PE, PhD, Brigadier General, (US Army-Retired); Glenn L. Martin, Institute Professor of Engineering, University of Maryland; Ann Phillips, Rear Admiral, (US Navy- Retired) Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection, Commonwealth of Virginia; Ricardo S. Pineda PE, CFM Chair, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Supervising Engineer Water Resources, California Department of Water Resources Division of Flood Management on behalf of the Association of State Floodplain Managers; Louis Gritzo, PhD Vice President FM Global Research Manager; Melissa Samet Senior Water Resources Counsel National Wildlife Federation; and Julie Ufner, President National Waterways Conference. Chairman Peter DeFazio addressed the increasing occurrence of extreme hydrologic events in his opening remarks, highlighting the fiscal impact these events had on the country: “In 2019 alone, we have had 10 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States.”  Click here to view the recording.

4) NEW: OP-ED BY CHAIR AND RANKING MEMBER OF SENATE EPW: On Nov. 19th, Sen. John Barrasso, M.D. (R-WY) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate EPW Committee, wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Times highlighting the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, which passed unanimously out of their committee at the end of July. The bill authorizes $287 billion in funding to build and repair our nation’s transportation infrastructure. To read that op-ed, click here.

5) NEW: RURAL HEALTHCARE CHALLENGES AND INNOVATIONS MAKE NATIONAL HEADLINES:  The Washington Post published a story on November 16 covering the medical industry’s attempt to fill a growing void in access to care for rural populations. For reference, the article cites an alarming statistic: “The number of ER patients in rural areas has surged by 60 percent in the past decade, even as the number of doctors and hospitals in those places has declined by up to 15 percent.” Eli Saslow followed physicians working for Avera eCare, a telemedicine center in Sioux Falls, SD, that “provides remote emergency care for 179 hospitals across 30 states.” The center uses video calls to connect staff at critical access hospitals to physicians in cubicles hundreds of miles away in the suburbs of South Dakota. Saslow recounts multiple patient visits, describing both the advances and the limits of the technology. While the physicians can provide guidance to the nursing staff and physician assistants who would otherwise act on their own, there are instances in which the physician in her cubicle “wanted to reach into the screen” to perform the procedure herself.  Click here to read the article.

6) NEW: TRANSPORTATION AT THE BALLOT BOX: On November 6, the Eno Center for Transportation hosted a webinar to present the initial findings on the election results of more than 100 transportation-related ballot measures which totaled $11 billion in potential investment. The webinar was hosted by Enos’s President and CEO, Robert Puentes, as well as policy analyst Romic Aevaz. Click here for a recording of the webinar.

7) ON-GOING: PLEASE CONTINUE TO UTILIZE #RebuildRural!  Please help us promote the needs of rural communities for increased investment in their infrastructure by using #RebuildRural in your social media posts. Be part of the conversation and help us send the message to policymakers that rural American infrastructure need to be addressed soon. Together we can show a groundswell of support. 

Thank you very much for your continued partnership and collaboration toward REBUILD RURAL Coalition activities.


Comments are closed.