Colorado stands to receive $5 billion for infrastructure upgrades under the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
While that’s money that’s urgently needed (the Colorado section of the American Society of Civil Engineers has given the state’s infrastructure an overall grade of “C-”) the vote is noteworthy not just for what it will provide, but what it signals in terms of a functioning lawmaking body. The bill passed the Senate 69-30, but still has to pass the U.S. House.
“This bipartisan bill shows the world that our democracy still works,” Sen. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “It comes in the nick of time as we face droughts, wildfires, mudslides, and aging infrastructure across Colorado and the nation.”
According to White House estimates, Colorado is expected to receive $3.7 billion for roads, $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs, at least $100 million to expand broadband coverage, $917 million for public transit, and $57 million to expand electric vehicle charging.
“We must fix our crumbling infrastructure and embrace our clean energy future,” said Hickenlooper, a member of the “G-22” group of senators who negotiated the bipartisan bill.
It’s the latest sign of a bipartisan spirit President Joe Biden has sought to nurture since taking office. This bills follows on the heels of the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that aims to increase American competitiveness against China, which passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support.
“You can tell the difference between an adversarial negotiation and a collaborative one,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told The Washington Post. In the case of the infrastructure bill, “when one side had a problem, the other side tried to solve the problem, rather than to walk away from the table.”
“Now that we have activated those old, forgotten muscles, what’s next? What can this bipartisan group of senators next turn their attention to?” Hickenlooper told the Denver Post. “That’s when we’ll really start to demonstrate that democracy is not broken. It’s certainly bruised but it’s not broken.”
We’ll take any positive sign that the system — so often reduced to dysfunction in the last decade — can still work when experienced politicians work together for the good of the country instead of obstructing.