Congress passed an infrastructure bill for America | News, Sports, Jobs
America’s infrastructure plays a crucial role in our lives. We rely on our infrastructure to get to work, to connect to the internet, to buy something online that depends on our ports, our freight trains, our airports or our highways. We just flip a light switch and wait for the lights to come on. The electricity grid and the other enduring assets that connect our country – roads, bridges, ports, waterways, railways, broadband networks and more – are essential to our businesses, our farmers, our workers, our families and our communities.
Unfortunately, many of our infrastructure assets are not up to the task. In February, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation a “C-” for our infrastructure. And areas like Appalachia, the mountainous region that runs through my home state, Ohio, West Virginia, and a number of other states have their own unique infrastructure challenges. Based on my conversations with Ohioans about the need to fix crumbling infrastructure, it’s no surprise that CNBC and CBS News polls both found that 87% of the public support the efforts. bipartisan to invest in our infrastructure.
The good news is that after decades of talking about it, Congress recently passed and the President signed into law the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to improve the lives of all Americans by investing in infrastructure. of our country. I was proud to play a leading role in the development and passage of this legislation in the Senate, which provides an unprecedented $542 billion for infrastructure – that is, 100% infrastructure, not social spending – without raising taxes on hard-working American families or the businesses that keep our economy going. . And because these are long-term investments in durable assets and will make our country more efficient and productive, it is counter-inflationary at a time when devastating inflation is on the rise.
Support for this legislation in the House of Representatives by 13 Republicans, including Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), was crucial for the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act to become law. His leadership in this effort was essential to making it happen. We both recognize that targeted infrastructure investment will go a long way to addressing the unique challenges facing the Appalachian region. I also want to thank West Virginia Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin for their work in bringing this bill to fruition.
Here’s how this new law will make a difference.
First, it will help more households upgrade to high-speed Internet. All too often, accessing reliable Wi-Fi means going to the nearest library or government building and hoping to get a signal. Unfortunately, Appalachia continues to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of internet connectivity and speed. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, this lack of the internet is hurting students trying to do their homework, entrepreneurs trying to start businesses, patients trying to receive virtual healthcare, and many more.
The new law will help more households in the region switch to high-speed internet by providing hundreds of millions for broadband expansion in the region, dramatically improving opportunities for students, workers and families. Additionally, millions more families will be eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which helps low-income households invest in essential high-speed internet subscriptions.
Second, our infrastructure law will help facilitate travel in the region. In parts of Appalachia, a closed road means a substantial 30-60 minute detour to get to school, work, the grocery store, or even the hospital. To help, state governments will receive billions in aid to repair these crumbling roads, as well as hundreds of millions more to repair bridges. The law also contains $1.25 billion in new funding for the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), the 3,090-mile highway system that has significantly expanded highway service in the region over the years — including $95 million $195 million for Appalachian Highways in Ohio and $195 million for West Virginia. Year one funding has already been allocated for this purpose and will help further expand existing transportation routes and connect more communities to the commercial highways that connect our country.
Third, through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Appalachia will see real help to address other important challenges, from resources to better fight wildfires to critical funding to improve water infrastructure. and ensure the availability of clean and safe drinking water in every community. These are substantial and lasting investments that are not only good for the region, but also for our country.
Studies show that building this physical infrastructure will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in a variety of industries, grow our economy, and raise wages for workers over the next 10 years and beyond. It’s no surprise that more than 100 stakeholders from all levels of government and countless industries have supported this bill, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO Building Trades Council, the ‘American Farm Bureau and the National League of Cities.
I was proud to join Rep. McKinley and Senators Capito and Manchin in making this necessary investment in infrastructure. Thanks to the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, the Appalachian region and the entire United States will benefit for years to come.
Senator Rob Portman is a Republican representing the state of Ohio.