By Nancy Spannaus
June 23, 2023—The $5 trillion National Infrastructure Bank bill, crafted on the principles of First Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, has now been introduced into the 118th Congress. Once again, Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill) has stepped forward to present the only currently viable solution to the dangerous accelerating collapse of the infrastructure of the United States.
Davis’s H.R. 4052 calls for the establishment of a public bank “to facilitate efficient investments and financing of infrastructure projects and new job creation.” It would be capitalized by current U.S. debt (privately owned Treasury bonds) and permit the issuance of low-interest loans to states, localities, and public authorities to meet the unmet needs for repairing and upgrading the transportation, water, energy, communications, and housing infrastructure of the country. Those needs run into the trillions, and people’s lives depend upon making these investments.
Rep. Davis introduced earlier versions of the bank bill in the 116th and 117th Congresses. The 2021-2022 version, H.R. 3339, garnered 19 cosponsors before it expired at the end of the congressional term. Unfortunately, no Republicans had signed on.
Despite extensive lobbying efforts by the National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) Coalition over the last months, no Republicans were willing to join in cosponsoring the legislation this time either. But, with the infrastructure collapse worsening by the day, Rep. Davis decided to act alone.
H.R. 4052 was introduced into Congress on June 13. Two days later, Rep. Davis took the occasion of a Zoom Town Hall meeting by the NIB Coalition to release a six-minute video announcing his new legislation and what it aims to accomplish.
That video is available here. In it, the Congressman concisely and eloquently explains the urgent need for the bank, and how its funding mechanism will allow localities to meet their pressing needs without raising additional Federal taxes or increasing the Federal budget deficit. His presentation is the epitome of the statesmanship which our nation requires.
I strongly encourage those who read this post to watch the video, and share it, for the widest possible circulation.
A National Movement
Rep. Davis’s initiative occurs in the context of an extremely active national movement of citizens and civic or political organizations who have been fighting for the NIB since the middle of the last decade. Over the course of that time, these activists have succeeded in getting hearings and endorsements for the national legislation in dozens of cities and counties, and in having memorials to Congress urging passage of the legislation introduced in 25 states. (For a full listing of endorsers, click here.)
In 2023 alone, legislators in the following eight states have sponsored memorials in support of the Hamiltonian infrastructure bank: Alabama, Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington State. The Washington State House and Senate were the first to pass the Memorial this spring.
In addition, memorials for the NIB have been voted up this year by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Detroit City Council, and and the Fresno Council of Governments.
The sticking point remains the lack of courage, or understanding, in the U.S. Congress. Clearly, it’s going to take more pressure from constituency groups to convey the message to those who have recited an oath to “promote the general welfare” of the nation: Follow the precedent of Alexander Hamilton and pass the NIB now!
Nancy Spannaus is the author of Hamilton Versus Wall Street: The Core Principles of the American System of Economics, available here.