The National League of Cities says more than 700 of their members are going to delay or cancel infrastructure projects because of the coronavirus and domestic unrest breaking their budgets.

The League and its constituent cities are genuflecting to Washington, demanding a fourth round of federal funding. Much of the budget bluster is political theater, some in support of the 2,309-page, $1.3 trillion “infrastructure” bill, H.R. 2.

That bill, which at press time was headed for the goal line with a House vote by July 4th, will split the $1.3 trillion in three general ways. The first half-trillion would go for infrastructure as we know it—roads, bridges, dams, water and sewer projects—stuff with concrete and rebar and public need. The second will go to “green deal” ideas, and the third, with very little construction, but maybe another $1200 check in time for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, the final third will go to what Washingtonians call ornaments—side deals tacked onto big-ticket legislation that always needs a little sweetener to get the seemingly recalcitrant Representatives to support it. The big bills are “Christmas trees” because they require so many “ornaments.”

The Ornament Selection

  • Alternative Water Source Program – $600M 
  • Clean Water SRF -$40B ($8B annually for five years)
  • Safe Drinking Water SRF – $4.140B for FY22; $4.8B for FY23; and $5.5B for F.Y. 24 and 25 
  • Title 16 WIIN Grants – $500M
  • $500 billion investment to rebuild and “reimagine” the nation’s transportation
  • $130 billion in school infrastructure targeted at highpoverty schools and upgrades child care facilities
  • $100 billion into our nation’s affordable housing infrastructure 
  • $25 billion for safe drinking water 
  • $70 billion to modernize energy infrastructure 
  • $100 billion for affordable high-speed broadband Internet access to all of the country
  • $30 billion to modernize the health care infrastructure 
  • $25 billion to modernize and strengthen the Postal Service
  • Promotes new renewable energy infrastructure

We are fighting a ground war with local agencies to push back on their groupthink exercise. Working with our union partners and the Southern California Partnership for Jobs, we remind those agencies that the money for most of their projects is a collection of city, state and federal funds. If they back out now, that outside money will go elsewhere. 

Their citizens know that the money carries commitments to the people to solve problems with their water, sewers or roads. If they reneged on their bond election promises, they know both bondholders and voters have long, long memories.


By Dave Sorem, P.E. ECA Government Affairs Chairman email: [email protected]