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Bustos: Democratic House infrastructure plan delivers for I-80, Amtrak, small towns

Bustos: Democratic House infrastructure plan delivers for I-80, Amtrak, small towns

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U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., unveiled some large plans that are part of the $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that will have positive effects on the Quad-Cities — including the Interstate-80 bridge — in a virtual meeting with local media Tuesday afternoon.

The key after Wednesday or Thursday’s expected passage by the Democratic majority in the House is passage in the Senate and then being signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Bustos said the Democrats delivered on a campaign promise from two years ago, when they came into control of the House. She also noted Trump campaigned in 2016 on passing an infrastructure bill.

"This is a pledge that we as House Democrats made that we would pass one of the biggest, boldest infrastructure packages in the history of our nation because we know that we talked about this in terms of rebuilding America,” said Bustos, who also leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which recruits and supports Democratic candidates. “Our infrastructure has been neglected for so long that this is long overdue that we pass something like this.

“The saying about ‘control what you can control,’ " is what the Democrats did, she said of the bill facing a Republican-majority senate and Republican president.

“We think that we have got a great plan that looks at not just roads and bridges, but things like our public school system, our hospitals, our electric grid, our broadband. This is a big and a bold plan.”

Highlighting the $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Infrastructure legislation, it:

  • Delivers better roads and bridges with more than $300 billion of investment that prioritizes fixing what already exists, including tens of thousands of structurally deficient bridges.
  • Invests more than $100 billion in transit to put more zero-emission buses on the road, add new routes and provide more reliable service, resulting in better transit options and fewer single-occupant cars.
  • Modernizes infrastructure to reduce gridlock.
  • Invests in programs, projects and materials that emphasize resiliency while reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector, including $1.4 billion in alternative fuel charging infrastructure.
  • Triples funding for Amtrak to $29 billion, allowing for upgrades and expansion of the passenger rail network, improves rail crossing safety and addresses increasingly long trains that block crossings for 10-plus minutes, which impacts local traffic and emergency response times.
  • Keeps cargo moving by funding the essential dredging and upkeep of American harbors, ports and channels.
  • Delivers affordable high-speed broadband internet access to all parts of the country by investing $100 billion to promote competition for broadband internet infrastructure to unserved and underserved rural, suburban and urban communities, prioritizing communities in persistent poverty and ensuring that broadband-related support is being administered in an efficient, technology-neutral and financially sustainable manner. With so many small towns in her district, Bustos called this portion "absolutely necessary."
  • Gets kids connected to remote learning with digital equipment and affordable broadband options, connects school buses to wi-fi and helps schools and libraries close the “homework gap” outside school.
  • Provides financing support for state and local government investments and spurring private investment.
  • Invests in schools with the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which invests $130 billion targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that endanger the health and safety of students and educators.
  • Leverages a five-year, $10 billion federal investment in addressing structural challenges and upgrading child care facilities to generate additional state and private investments in making sure that child care settings are safe, appropriate and able to comply with current and future public health directives.

Bustos — who called the legislation, which sets plans for the next five years, “momentous” — also indicated some of the money will be used locally for a new I-80 bridge, which she noted was not built for the traffic it currently handles. 

She also highlighted $30 billion in the bill for hospitals and drinking water infrastructure. 

Infrastructure, in general, is really about connecting people, products and information in the community, Bustos said.

“The stronger our connections are, the stronger our community will be. That’s really what this is all about," she said. "We can’t make those connections without building our nation's crumbling highways, improve our rail, our airports, invest in clean drinking water, ensure that our communities have access to broadband."

The bill addresses all of that, she said. “It is big and it is bold and it is needed.”

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