ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Congress should seek compromise

This editorial was originally published Thursday in the Anderson Herald Bulletin.

It looked for a minute there like Congress was on the verge of a long-awaited infrastructure plan. In one moment, President Joseph R. Biden was standing with a bipartisan group of senators announcing his support for an agreement that would spend $1.2 trillion to repair, rebuild and expand various types of infrastructure.

In the next, he was saying the quiet part out loud, admitting the deal was not all he wanted and threatening to veto the measure if it were not accompanied by a larger package that could be pushed through the Senate with only Democratic votes in a process called reconciliation.

It’s not entirely clear where the deal stands now.

The president quickly backed away from his veto threat, and those responsible for hammering out the compromise voiced hope the measure would eventually win approval. Now, Congress is off celebrating the Fourth of July, and it’s likely members of both parties are hearing from constituents urging them to find common ground.

A poll taken in mid-June found 58% of respondents expect Congress to approve an infrastructure bill by the end of the summer.

The survey, a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll, found 78% want Biden to accept the bipartisan agreement, while only 22% believe he should hold out for a larger package.

Nearly 70% said lawmakers should take their time to craft legislation that would draw both Democratic and Republican support.

Indiana lawmakers should make themselves part of that effort.

That’s not to say the task will be easy.

Democrats scoff at the idea of an infrastructure plan focused only on highways and bridges. They look instead to expand city bus systems and rapid transit.

Republicans aren’t convinced, though, that taxpayers in Pittsburgh should be helping to pay for a light rail station in San Francisco.

It’s all a matter of give and take. Mass transit advocates say it’s possible to sell Republicans on boosting passenger rail funding if it means keeping Amtrak trains running through the states they represent.

National Public Radio reported last month that the bipartisan agreement Biden had endorsed included $66 billion for freight and passenger rail, $49 billion for transit and $109 billion for roads and bridges. It even has $15 billion for electric vehicles and charging stations.

How the measure will look by the time it makes its way through the legislative process is anybody’s guess, but if lawmakers are listening to their constituents, they’ll find a way to compromise. We’d like to see Indiana lawmakers leading the way.

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