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U.S. Rep. John Katko responds to a question during a town hall meeting at Cayuga Community College on Aug. 30.

U.S. Rep. John Katko hopes Congress will consider a bipartisan infrastructure plan he helped author in 2018

The proposal was developed by Katko, R-Camillus, and other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus. The recommendations made by the group include a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, investments in water infrastructure and examining whether the federal gas tax should be raised to bolster the Highway Trust Fund. 

Katko, who chairs the Problem Solvers Caucus' infrastructure working group, first released the plan in January 2018. The goal of the working group's effort was to reach bipartisan agreement on an infrastructure proposal that could advance in Congress. 

"A lack of investment in our infrastructure has led to aging highways, bridges, railways and ports in central New York and throughout America," said Katko, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "An upgrade to our nation's infrastructure is long overdue and necessary to sustain our recent economic growth and ensure safe travel for all Americans."

The Problem Solvers Caucus' proposal would increase access to grant programs for water infrastructure projects and ensure the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is used for its intended purpose. 

One of the group's recommended solutions is a greater federal focus on harmful algal blooms — a problem affecting Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles lakes in Katko's district. The report suggests strengthening efforts to "research, prevent and mitigate HABs while also increasing resources available to states and localities to protect and update water systems threatened by HABs." 

For years, presidents and members of Congress have discussed the need for a major infrastructure plan. When then-candidate Donald Trump campaigned for president in 2016, he proposed a $1 trillion investment in critical infrastructure. 

Democrats in Congress are willing to negotiate an infrastructure deal with Trump, but no agreement has been reached. 

Katko believes the Problem Solvers' framework could be a start for discussions about a national infrastructure plan. 

"This bipartisan proposal highlights areas where Republicans and Democrats agree on improvements to infrastructure across America," he said. "I am optimistic these policy ideas will drive the conversation on this important issue and yield impactful results for all Americans." 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.