There’s a new umbrella group promoting the gospel of transportation spending, and its message seems tailor-made to appeal to conservatives.
America’s Infrastructure Alliance, set to officially roll out its message Tuesday, plans to trumpet the notion that America needs federal transportation spending and that supporting a federal role is wholly grounded in the U.S. Constitution.
Jeff Loveng, AIA president and chairman, told POLITICO that it’s not specifically meant to appeal to conservatives, but “anybody that believes in the foundation of the United States.”
Loveng, former chief of staff for House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), acknowledged, though, that “there are challenges among conservatives when it comes to federal investments.”
“Although states and local governments play a crucial role in funding, building and maintaining important local and regional elements of our national transportation systems, only the federal government can direct and fund the construction and maintenance of transportation systems that are truly national in scope,” reads a document introducing the group and its philosophies.
The document also contains references to Dwight Eisenhower and economist Adam Smith.
Shuster himself has tapped into this line since taking the Transportation gavel earlier this year. His speeches and press releases often reference Adam Smith and the link between federal spending on infrastructure and the country’s foundational documents, including the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.
There are other umbrella groups promoting transportation, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led Americans for Transportation Mobility. But Loveng said he isn’t aware of another that represents every major mode of transportation.
AIA’s members include Airlines for America, the American Trucking Associations, the Association of American Railroads, the Associated General Contractors of America and the Waterways Council.
AIA’s board also boasts former Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and two former members of Congress, Reps. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and Robert Dold (R-Illinois).
Loveng said not to expect AIA to take a position on the never-ending fight over where revenues should come from to pay for boosted infrastructure spending.
Instead, Loveng said, they’re focused on “the 20,000 foot argument … pushing the issue of convincing the American public and decision makers about the constitutional obligation of the federal government to provide for transportation infrastructure.”
He said they’ll primarily be focusing outside the Beltway, targeting sectors of the country that have a populace perceived as unfriendly to the idea of federal transportation spending.
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