America has never been in greater need of a historic investment in jobs or infrastructure. As the U.S. Senate just passed the largest infrastructure bill in U.S. history with bipartisan support, we must not tone down our rhetoric.
The nation needs to improve the infrastructure that has been neglected for far too long. Year after year we talk about fixing our roads and bridges, our mass transit and our trains, and our water and electrical grids. Year after year they fall further into disrepair. Individual states are left to fix the problems, when they can.
The bill passed in the Senate is a $1 trillion Infrastructure bill that includes a five-year reauthorization of surface transportation programs, significant increases in water infrastructure programs, and an additional $550 billion in funding for bridges, energy, rail, water, and broadband infrastructure.
The talk and rhetoric have reached a breaking point, and people in this country want action. They want action because they see the wear and tear that is going on daily while their local municipalities and states are using band-aids to hold things together. They also want action because they know that with the over $1 trillion in spending will come thousands upon thousands of good paying union construction jobs that provide benefits and retirement.
The workers of this country are ready to get back on track and rebuild this country. They are ready for the single largest investment in:
- Roads and bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system
- Clean drinking water by eliminating lead pipes
- A modern power grid
- Public transit and electric vehicle infrastructure
The national economy is slowly returning to the strength it had prior to the pandemic, and while inflation is on the rise, we are still in need of good paying jobs that will be created by the reinvestment from the infrastructure bill.
Some of the investment will be in new projects that are too large to finance at the local level, while others will focus on fixing and modernizing existing structures. The bill would invest $110 billion for roads and bridges over the next five years, $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, $66 billion investment in rail, $50 billion to protect against droughts and floods, $55 billion clean water investment, $65 billion investments in high-speed internet and $73 billion investment in clean energy transmission.
The jobs created by this investment in our future will create tens of thousands of middle-class jobs for a generation of workers with work hours that will create more secure retirement and pensions.
The bill the Senate just passed, contrary to the conservative talking heads, is not a clone of the “Green New Deal. It doesn’t require everyone to drive electric cars, it doesn’t require solar and wind as our only power sources, and while it accounts for the single largest infrastructure bill in U.S. history, it in fact does not go far enough in addressing the needs that our country has for improvements.
The sponsors of the bill have done everything in their power to make and keep this issue a bipartisan one. Senator Portman (R-Ohio) said on Sunday, Aug. 8:
Mr. President I would also like to talk a little about what this bill does and why it’s so important for our country. For the past two days, we’ve been working through this amendment process and sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture here. The bigger picture is, we as a country have an infrastructure system that’s badly in need of repair. We are consistently rated as a country with an infrastructure system that frankly hasn’t kept up with the rest of the world.
Infrastructure shouldn’t be a regional or partisan political issue. The roads and bridges in Arkansas and Ohio are just as important as the roads and bridges in New York and California. The bill even includes increases in the Rural Area Formula Funding from $875 million in 2022 to $951 million in 2026, enhanced mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities funding from $371 million in 2022 to $400 million in 2026, and the larger problem of safe drinking water and the replacing of lead pipes – just as important in rural states as in urban states.
The infrastructure bill appeals to a wide variety of interests – it can be a rallying cry for bipartisanship, or for green energy and electric vehicles, and it can also be a rallying cry for jobs that give people a career with benefits and a pension. All of this can lift the workers of this country back onto their feet and carry our country into the future.
The U.S. Senate has passed the bill, but the House of Representatives will not take it up until October. So, the time is now to call your senator and either thank them, vote supporting it or volunteer for the person running against them. It is also the time to start calling your congressperson to let them know of your support.