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article imageButtigieg pitches infrastructure needs to a divided Congress

By Karen Graham     Mar 25, 2021 in Politics
Washington - Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is warning that the country’s infrastructure needs exceed $1 trillion and that other countries, namely China, are pulling ahead of the U.S. with their public works investments.
On Thursday morning, "Mayor Pete" Buttigieg, appeared at a House Transportation Committee hearing to discuss the administration’s priorities for roads, bridges, and other public works.
“Across the country, we face a trillion-dollar backlog of needed repairs and improvements, with hundreds of billions of dollars in good projects already in the pipeline," Buttigieg said, per US News. “We see other countries pulling ahead of us, with consequences for strategic and economic competition. By some measures, China spends more on infrastructure every year than the U.S. and Europe combined."
Buttigieg's meeting with the committee was part of the Biden administration's opening gambit in trying to sell his $3.0 trillion infrastructure plan to lawmakers. And while Congress just passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, any attempt to sell an even broader economic recovery package is going to take some doing.
He calls the coming months “the best chance in any of our lifetimes to make a generational investment in infrastructure,” according to prepared remarks obtained by the Associated Press, reports Transport Topics.
“Across the country, we face a trillion-dollar backlog of needed repairs and improvements, with hundreds of billions of dollars in good projects already in the pipeline,” he said, “Climate change is real,” he said. “Every dollar we spend rebuilding from a climate-driven disaster is a dollar we could have spent building a more competitive, modern, and resilient transportation system that produces significantly lower emissions.”
At a news conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden talked about his transportation infrastructure plans, claiming the plan will create a significant number of “really good-paying jobs,” which “used to be a great Republican goal and initiative.” He added that the "majority of Americans are tired of decaying infrastructure, such as roads and bridges badly in need of repair, due in part to the impact of climate change."
The I-40 bridge disaster was a bridge collapse that occurred southeast of Webbers Falls  Oklahoma  U...
The I-40 bridge disaster was a bridge collapse that occurred southeast of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, United States at 7:45 a.m. on May 26, 2002.
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Republicans are wary of the inclusion of climate change into an infrastructure bill. Representative Sam Graves of Missouri, the committee’s top Republican, touched on how his party differs from Democrats, saying any infrastructure package “needs to be about roads and bridges” rather than a “Green New Deal.”
“You and I have discussed on a couple of occasions the path to a bipartisan bill,” Graves told Buttigieg. “I don’t think the bill can grow into a multi-trillion dollar catchall. It needs to be manageable and responsible.”
This news comes as a report released earlier this month by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country’s infrastructure a grade of C-, lifting it from the D range for the first time in 20 years, according to Digital Journal.
The report also warns that “the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on infrastructure revenue streams threaten to derail the modest progress we’ve made over the past four years." And this statement is an interesting one, given that the definition of infrastructure will need to be expanded to include climate change and its effects, as well as the post-pandemic era we are approaching.
Regardless of how much backlash Republican lawmakers might throw at any attempts to get an infrastructure bill passed, Democrats plan on getting it through the legislative process, even if they have to go with a one-vote majority in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said “in areas where we can work with our Republican colleagues, we will.”
“Hopefully we can get them to work with us,” he told reporters. “But as I said, if we can’t, we’re going to have to move forward.”
More about Pete Buttigieg, transportation secretary, Infrastructure, green new deal, generational investment
 
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