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D.C. Memo: This memo is infrastructure too

On deck this week: Infrastructure is up for interpretation, the All-Star Game gets political and an attack at the U.S. Capitol.

photo of road closed sign with road construction in background
The Biden administration is calling for an expansive definition of infrastructure, beyond just roads and bridges.
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. memo. Congress is still out of session, so another light week in D.C. On deck this week: Infrastructure is up for interpretation, the All-Star Game gets political and an attack at the U.S. Capitol.

It’s infrastructure if you want it to be

Just kidding — but that might be what President Joe Biden wants us to think. Biden, in his big infrastructure plan announcement, told the country that the concept of infrastructure would be defined expansively, using it for projects and priorities that Democrats have not historically associated with the word.

Republicans, on the other hand, want to define “infrastructure” much more narrowly. They’re pressing a traditional case against the bill’s higher taxes and more government spending.

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According to the World Economic Forum, whose ranking Biden used in his speech, the U.S. ranks 13th in infrastructure. The WEF uses a more specific definition than the president would like us to use: roads, railroads, ports, air transport, electricity supply, and the number of cell phone subscriptions and fixed-telephone lines.

But Biden is going a little further than that. Under his new infrastructure plan, there would be improvements to housing stock, modernization of schools and child care facilities and upgrades to VA hospitals and federal buildings. Even further from the light is the $590 billion meant to “invest in domestic manufacturing, research & development, and job training initiatives.”

Biden’s infrastructure package has gotten some love from the Minnesota delegation: Sen. Amy Klobuchar has expressed support for broadband internet expansion after rural areas of Minnesota were hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia says goodbye to the All-Stars

The Major League Baseball All-Star game was originally set to take place in Atlanta, but the league decided to move the game and draft in response to Georgia’s recently passed laws that placed restrictions on voting. The MLB moved the game to Denver, where the Colorado Rockies will now host the annual event. Though the MLB didn’t specifically praise Colorado on its voting laws, the difference was pretty clear: Colorado is second in the nation for voter turnout. (Minnesota, of course, is #1.)

A Cobb County, Georgia tourism executive said moving the game would cost around $100 million in expected revenue from tourism.

For what it’s worth: Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon called out the MLB on Twitter, saying Minnesotans would welcome the All-Star Game. “We have pro-voter election laws, and the #1 voter turnout in the nation,” Simon said. Maybe next year!

A smaller Capitol attack

A man rammed his car into a checkpoint at the U.S. Capitol last Friday, running into two police officers protecting Capitol grounds, leaving one dead and another injured. The man, who got out of the vehicle wielding a knife, was shot and killed by other security officers at the scene.

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This attack comes not quite three months after the Capitol siege on January 6th. Since then, fences and barricades were set up around the Capitol perimeter, and had just been taken down days before the incident. Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee has said that investigators don’t believe the incident was “terrorism related,” but that they don’t have a full motive.

The event raises questions about what security measures will look like at the Capitol going forward. It may be a while before constituents can get personal tours of the building, even after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

What I’m reading

  • How CNN’s Myanmar Trip Started a Debate Over Parachute Journalism, VICE. This story takes a critical look at the concept of “parachute journalism,” or the concept of a foreign, usually white, reporter jumping into a place they’re not familiar with. CNN was self-congratulating in their coverage, even as at least 11 people were detained after speaking with their reporter.
  • You won’t remember the Pandemic the way you think you will, The Atlantic. When did your plague year begin? For me, the early days are in stark contrast to the “before times,” but everything else is kind of a blur. This story goes into the way our collective minds perceive trauma.
  • My Month of Doing 100 Wheelies a Day, Outside. In her quest to master a quintessential cool-kid trick, a writer found the sweet spot at the crossroads of work and play. I think we all could use a little more play this year, and I’ve still never mastered the wheelie.

That’s it from me this week. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, or suggestions for the event Minnesota should get to host for being #1 in voter turnout. You can reach me by email at ahackett@minnpost.com, or follow me on Twitter.