WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is warning that the county’s infrastructure wants exceed $1 trillion and that different nations, particularly China, are pulling forward of the U.S. with their public works investments, a state of affairs he describes as “a threat to our collective future.”
Buttigieg is set to appear before a House panel Thursday, part of an opening gambit to sell Congress on President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan. Congress just passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, but Buttigieg is expected to tell lawmakers that a broader economic recovery will require a national commitment to fix and transform America’s infrastructure.
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.
“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 says.
Buttigieg can even emphasize new investments to curb local weather change.
Buttigieg was set to deal with the Home Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as Biden meets with financial advisers this week on an rising $3 trillion package deal of investments on infrastructure and home wants. In latest weeks, Buttigieg has met over two dozen teams and over three dozen members of Congress, based on company data, to debate the trouble he casts as a “generational” alternative.
However that gross sales pitch is going through skepticism from Republicans cautious of one other expensive package deal so quickly after the multitrillion-dollar COVID-19 response. For Biden, it is one more take a look at of his marketing campaign promise to succeed in throughout the political aisle when addressing nationwide issues, with some Democrats favoring a go-it-alone method that might reduce Republicans out of the method.
The proposal, which stays preliminary, would break laws on the priorities into totally different items, together with an infrastructure part to spice up roads, bridges, rail strains, electrical automobile charging stations and the mobile community, amongst different gadgets, in a bid to draw Republican help. The aim could be to facilitate the shift to cleaner vitality.
A second part would come with investments in staff with free neighborhood faculty, common pre-kindergarten and paid household go away, based on an individual acquainted with the choices who insisted on anonymity to debate personal conversations.
Biden is anticipated to offer particulars on his financial proposals in a speech subsequent week.
Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the Democratic chairman of the Home transportation panel, says lawmakers needs to be asking what penalties the nation will undergo “for every day of delay.”
“Infrastructure is integral to the functioning of our economy and investing heavily in it at this moment in time is key to our nation’s recovery,” DeFazio says in his prepared remarks.
Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 who was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is echoing Biden’s call to pass a bill with bipartisan support, stressing both economic and racial justice needs.
He says nearly 40,000 Americans die on unsafe or inadequate roads annually, while millions others don’t have access to affordable transportation. The current pandemic has only stressed the transportation sector even more, he says, and “without action, it will only get worse.”
“We see other countries pulling ahead of us, with consequences for strategic and economic competition,” Buttigieg says in ready remarks. “By some measures, China spends more on infrastructure every year than the U.S. and Europe combined. The infrastructure status quo is a threat to our collective future.”
“Now is the time to finally address major inequities — including those caused by highways that were built through Black and Brown communities, decades of disinvestment that left small towns and rural main streets stranded, and the disproportionate pollution burden from trucks, ports, and other facilities,” he adds.
Last year, the House passed a $1.5 trillion package of public works improvements, but the Senate did not take it up after Republicans criticized it as embracing a “Green New Deal.” A Senate panel authorized a far narrower measure, however it did not advance.
Buttigieg says he seems ahead to extra dialogue within the weeks and months forward over the scale and scope of the package deal. Each DeFazio and Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, chair of the Senate Surroundings and Public Works Committee, have set targets of passing payments out of their committee in Could.
Related Press author Josh Boak contributed to this report.