08.10.21

Leahy Praises Passage Today Of Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment And Jobs Act

. . . . Bill Includes More Than $1.8 B. In Apportionments For Vermont’s Roads, Bridges, Broadband And More

(TUESDAY, Aug. 10, 2021) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is hailing Senate passage Tuesday of a bipartisan bill to help build back the United States’ crumbling infrastructure.  The infrastructure package includes $550 billion in new federal investments over five years and $650 billion in authorizations. 

Leahy, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said:  “Once again, the Senate has shown that infrastructure is – as it always has been – a bipartisan issue.  The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act offers a once-in-a-generation vision for America’s infrastructure that is long overdue.  This bipartisan infrastructure package makes the largest federal investment in public transit, passenger rail and bridges in more than 50 years.”

Leahy continued:  “This is the way the Senate is supposed to work.  This hasn’t been easy, but it’s important to Vermont and to our country.  I’m particularly pleased about the programmatic changes we were able to get to make these federal revenue streams more accessible to small and rural states like Vermont.”

Totaling nearly $650 billion in authorizations, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the bipartisan work of senators across multiple committees.  Among the bill’s achievements is $110 billion in new investments to address the aging infrastructure needs of the nation’s roads and bridges.  The bill also provides $66 billion for passenger and freight rail as well as $39.2 billion in public transit funding to address the country’s transit system repair backlog.  The Department of Transportation estimates that the backlog is more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems.

This bipartisan infrastructure package also makes significant down payments on climate resiliency initiatives to make the country and Vermont more prepared to tackle the climate crisis.  It authorizes an estimated $65 billion investment in clean energy transmission, the single-largest clean energy investment in American history.  It also invests $10 billion to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), $5 billion for the replacement of existing school buses with zero emission and clean school buses with a priority on low-income, rural and Tribal schools, and $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 with low incomes.

The bill also dedicates $65 billion to building out America’s broadband infrastructure.  This funding will go toward grants to states for broadband deployment, making broadband access more affordable for low-income families, expanding eligible private activity bond projects to include broadband infrastructure, and supporting middle-mile deployment.  Vermont is expected to receive at least $100 million of the $42.45 billion for grants to states for broadband deployment.  This funding will help living in at least 40,000 Vermont addresses that currently lack access to quality, high-speed internet service.  The bill builds on and permanently establishes the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, renaming it the Affordable Connectivity Benefit.  This program will provide a $30-per-month voucher for low-income families to use toward any internet service plan of their choosing. 

Based on formula funding, Vermont is expected to receive $1.4 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs under this package over five years.  Vermont also will receive $83 million over five years to improve public transportation options across the state and $21 million over five years to support the expansion of an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network in the state.  Vermont will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicate to EV charging in the bill.  For broadband, Vermont will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state.  The bill also includes $150 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), a program for which Leahy has long led in Congress.  Projects in Vermont regularly receive a quarter of the funding allocated to the NBRC.  And the bill also provides $40 million for another Leahy priority: Water quality projects in the Lake Champlain Basin, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Read Leahy’s Floor statement on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act HERE

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