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Infrastructure Week, a long-standing Washington punchline, is dead

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Long live Infrastructure Week

Launch Of National Infrastructure Week In Boston Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Farewell “Infrastructure Week.” We hardly knew ye.

The group that coined the weeklong advocacy effort-turned-perennial punchline is rebranding. It will now be known as United for Infrastructure, which is the same name as the nonprofit that hosts the event in Washington, DC every year, according to Politico.

“We are much more than just a week,” United for Infrastructure CEO Zach Schafer told the site. “We didn’t want to keep being distracted by that.”

I can sympathize. It must have been tough to watch as Infrastructure Week went from a legitimate effort aimed at rebuilding our nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, and broadband networks to a catchall joke about anything substantive or policy-related that was destined to go nowhere and become nothing.

Every time President Trump’s team tried to talk about infrastructure or tout their commitment to fulfilling his campaign promise of a $1 trillion infrastructure package, it would be overtaken by some other scandal or controversy.

It also became a convenient way to distract from the aforementioned controversies. According to The New York Times, one of the planners of Infrastructure Week admitted it was just a PR stunt meant to draw attention away from the congressional testimony of former FBI director James Comey in 2017. Of course, Trump gonna Trump. The president ended up neutralizing that by closing out a Rose Garden press conference ostensibly about Infrastructure Week by accusing Comey of perjury and repeating his now familiar “no obstruction, no collusion” mantra.

Suffice to say, Infrastructure Week took on a life of its own. And it will live on in all of our tweets, some of which I’ve compiled here for you to enjoy.

It’s one of those “laugh to avoid crying” things. Last I checked, our infrastructure was still in a state of extreme disrepair, and the White House has done very little to ameliorate that situation. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, which is published every four years, US infrastructure gets a D+ grade. It got the same grade in 2013.

Trump’s long-promised $1 trillion infrastructure plan emerged neither big nor bold, calling for just $200 billion in federal spending, none of it necessarily new. And the plan was instantly buried in Congress where infrastructure hasn’t been on the agenda since 2018. They’ve stopped pretending that they could get something done.

Meanwhile, our trains continue to run through 100-year-old tunnels, our air traffic control system is in serious need of an update, our bridges are older than most of the people running for president, and our dams are just shot to hell.

So we gather here not to bury Infrastructure Week, but to praise it as a lighthearted distraction from the darkness boiling beneath the surface. And while it may go gentle into that good night, that shouldn’t stop the rest of us from remembering the good times, the times we shared.

Live every week like it’s Infrastructure Week.