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Monday, December 09, 2019

Infrastructure

President Joe Biden

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President Joe Biden, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and other bipartisan leaders gathered Wednesday in Cincinnati to tout recently passed infrastructure that will allocate $1.6 billion to help pay to replace the aging Brent Spence Bridge. The move comes after Biden vowed to “fix that damn bridge” during a town hall in July 2021. Biden is now delivering on that promise.

Built in 1963, the Brent Spence Bridge which connects Cincinnati to Kentucky has been considered “functionally obsolete” for years. It has become a symbol of the nation’s declining infrastructure, with several presidents vowing to not only work on it but create better roads and bridges across the country.

While several issues have vied to gain bipartisan support, infrastructure bills and bridge projects bridge the political divide, with Congress approving the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

"I believe it sends a message, an important message, to the entire country," Biden said, referring to the law that made the bridge project possible, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. "We can work together. We can get things done. We can move the nation forward."

"After years of politics being so divisive, there are bright spots across the country," Biden added. "The Brent Spence Bridge is one of them."

According to The Enquirer, the $1.6 billion in federal grants will help repair the Brent Spence Bridge and build a new bridge adjacent to it.

“It connects Michigan and Florida,” former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said in 2021 of the bridge, according to NBC News. “It's one of the most-traveled highways in the country. And if we're gonna be competitive with China and other countries, we've got to have vibrant, working infrastructure.”

According to WLWT, the project is expected to begin by 2023, but additional details (outside of the project expecting to last until 2030) are unknown at this time.

“I am thrilled that the President is choosing to visit Ohio and Kentucky to highlight how our economy and infrastructure continues to grow stronger because of his work,” Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said in a statement regarding the visit.

“The historic amount of money going towards this project is proof of what can be accomplished through strong regional, bipartisan collaboration. This is just the beginning.”

While several people also questioned whether Biden’s stop in Kentucky was about highlighting his relationship with Mitch McConnell, who was one of 19 Senate Republicans to support the infrastructure law, Biden and McConnell dismissed such claims.

“This is a bridge that has been a major national issue for 25 years, my top transportation project for decades. And it’s going to be fully funded by the infrastructure bill, which I supported," McConnell told reporters Tuesday according to the Associated Press. “It's important for me to be there.”

The Brent Spence Bridge isn’t the only one Biden’s administration is planning to work on. According to the Federal Highway Administration, $400 million of the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package approved in 2021 has been allocated to the Golden Gate Bridge, in order to complete the third and final phase of the seismic upgrades that will allow it to withstand earthquakes.

"This project is as important as any transportation infrastructure project you can find in America," said Rep. Jared Huffman of San Rafael.

"Can you imagine the calamity and the damage if a major earthquake hit and the Golden Gate Bridge was seriously damaged or destroyed?" he continued. "That's the scenario you have to think about and plan for."

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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President Joe Biden

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It hasn't even been two years since Joe Biden took the presidential oath at the Capitol, but his administration has quickly become one of the most consequential in generations, with transformational investments that will shape the next century of American enterprise.

The American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS Act, the Inflation Reduction Act — any one of these would be considered historic on their own merits. Together, they have formed a series of wins that is no less than astonishing for the first half of any president's first term.

Written off by many in the media, President Biden and Democrats in Congress deserve credit for doing in less than two years what former President Donald Trump couldn't do in four: put America first. And get through Infrastructure Week.

In fact, Democrats delivered an Infrastructure Decade. Through President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $1 trillion is now destined to level up America's infrastructure over the coming decade and beyond. It represents the most ambitious investment in America's infrastructure since President Eisenhower's national interstate highway system, which was built at a cost of slightly over $500 billion when adjusted for inflation.

And we are already seeing the effects of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in our communities. In the year since President Biden signed the legislation, nearly 7,000 projects across all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico have been announced, and more are on the way. Nearly every week in our Beyond the Beltway newsletter, Invest in America compiles new stories from across the country about projects made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including plans for new and improved roads, bridges, ports, and airports; upgraded public transit and rail systems; lead pipes to be replaced to provide clean water; and affordable-high speed internet that will soon be accessible to every family in America. An interactive map on the GSA's website helps Americans visualize and explore the local impacts of this massive investment in our future.

Meanwhile, American companies are re-shoring jobs at a rate 150% higher than before the pandemic. The CHIPS Act has already led to significant investment in American manufacturing of semiconductors, with Intel announcing a new $20 billion plant in Ohio, creating good jobs right here in America. And when fully implemented, the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in climate resilience ever enacted by Congress, will make America the global green energy leader.

The reforms and investments passed in these bills were bold — and broadly popular with the American people, in many cases across the political spectrum. The achievements arguably carried Democrats to the best first-term midterm performance for a party in power in 20 years, holding a fractious Republican Party to a slim majority.

They were so popular, in fact, that dozens of Republican lawmakers across the country, including some of the president's most virulent critics, touted projects and took credit for federal funding they voted against.

In Florida, Sen. Rick Scott, responsible for Republican Senate campaigns, celebrated $1 billion in federal funding for Everglades restoration they voted against in the infrastructure bill. Rep. Tom Emmer, responsible for Republican House campaigns, wrote to Secretary Pete Buttigieg to ask for infrastructure grants from the legislation. Even Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took part, bragging about doing the "hard work" to secure what he called a "great bipartisan victory" for a highway project, despite also voting against the legislation.

On the Democratic side, candidates in tight races ran, and won, on President Biden's investments in America, delivering the first election since 1914 in which no incumbent senator was defeated.

For example, Nevada's Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto regularly extolled the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will fund the expansion of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The day after the Senate passed the infrastructure package, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) was in Tucson explaining how the bill could alleviate traffic by funding access roads on I-10. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) even highlighted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in her victory speech, stating the investment was "rebuilding our roads and our bridges, and bringing high-speed internet to communities all across New Hampshire."

Even candidates who never had the chance to vote for Biden's initiatives still campaigned on them. After a Pittsburgh bridge collapsed in January, now-Sen.-elect John Fetterman tweeted his praise for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, writing, "Pittsburgh is *the* city of bridges. Now more than ever, we need to get to work. We need to make use of the legislation President @JoeBiden ushered in, rebuild our roads + bridges, and fix our faulty infrastructure." Nine months later, President Biden visited the site where the bridge was being rebuilt on an accelerated timeline thanks to funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Halfway into his term, President Biden has already ensured his administration will leave a legacy of investment in our infrastructure, industry, and American workers on a scale unprecedented in modern times.

As the benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan become more visible, Democrats must continue to run on their successful track record by reminding Americans who actually delivered on putting America first.

Zac Petkanas is a senior adviser to Invest In America, a campaign-style operation that influences the national debate in favor of robust public investment. Invest in America uses research, polling, expert validators, and targeted communications to reach and persuade elected officials and the American public.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.