As they assume the majority in the House of Representatives, Republicans have a chance to do something about the nation’s long-deteriorating infrastructure.
The opportunity lies in the federal transportation bill, which must be renewed every six years but has languished in Congress for a year. Judging from past bills and early talk, lawmakers could authorize as much as $500 billion for infrastructure investment, most of it to be funneled through the states.
Though that sum sounds hefty, it isn’t nearly enough: the American Society of Engineers figures that we must spend $1.3 trillion over five years to get our transportation infrastructure into acceptable shape. It follows that Congress should make the most of whatever figure it decides on, and one way to do that would be to assign the funds not through the usual pork-barrel politics but instead through a competition among the states.