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News Shapers: Infrastructure Week

Three men sit on Axios stage for event.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh speak with Axios' Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Thursday morning, Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen talked news of the day and infrastructure policies with lawmakers in a nod to the 7th annual Infrastructure Week, held in Washington, D.C.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California

Kevin McCarthy and Mike Allen sit talking on the Axios stage.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaks with Axios' Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke with Mike Allen about the infrastructure bill in Congress and the need for bipartisanship. He cited the Gain Act, a bipartisan $100 billion bill that would drive excess government funds to the 100 poorest districts for infrastructure investment.

Infrastructure helps us compete. It's a need that's been neglected. The greatest threat to our nation is our debt — so the way we finance it is important. We should be exploring public-private partnerships and pilot programs that give states greater flexibility.

His take on...

  • $2 trillion infrastructure bill: "People want to focus on how much money you have. I would like to focus on how we can unite."
  • 2020 Democratic field: "I think Biden, no disrespect, is the Jeb Bush of this cycle. I think he has too much to apologize for...I think Bernie Sanders has a much better chance."
  • Privacy and tech: "We're releasing a lot of data about ourselves, and do we really quite know it? The power that big tech companies have is concerning. Facebook shouldn't be broken up but they should be very honest about what they're using and what they're taking."

Go deeper: McCarthy: First step for regulating Big Tech is data transparency

Representative James Clyburn, South Carolina

James Clyburn and Mike Allen sit on the Axios stage.
Rep. Clyburn in conversation with Axios' Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

House Majority Whip James Clyburn focused on rural broadband as a key component for the future of the country: "It should be a significant part of any infrastructure bill going forward...if we are going to educate our children, they have to be connected to the internet."

When asked about his perspective on the Mueller investigation, Clyburn mentioned Congress needs to take the process one step at a time — investigate legally and carefully.

  • On Mueller testifying before Congress: "I think the misrepresentations that are being made of his report ought to be an incentive for him to come in and say what he really meant and not have Barr interpret his words for us."

Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts and Mayor Martin Walsh, Boston

Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh on the Axios stage.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh joined Mike Allen to share their perspectives on bipartisan efforts and creating change that constituents can see. Both lawmakers emphasized the need for infrastructure resiliency and structures that can withstand climate change.

If you don't change the infrastructure, you're putting the whole economy at risk.
— Mayor Walsh

Governor Baker called upon the federal government to invest aggressively in preventative measures, saying that better preparation in the face of more frequent and severe storms will save money in the long run. Massachusetts has recently implemented a vulnerability planning program.

Mayor Walsh expressed frustration about the slow progress in D.C.: "You've been here for 20 years talking about the same bill — you figure after 20 years you'd have it figured out. Infrastructure is the one issues that should have support on both sides."

I tend to think if you focus on where you can find common opportunities to agree, you're more likely to be successful than if you seek the places and spaces where you disagree. I've learned to expect and appreciate the fact that if you accomplish things, solve problems and share in success, everybody wins."
— Governor Baker

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.