Rep. DeFazio applauds Biden’s focus on infrastructure during address to Congress

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U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) applauded President Joe Biden’s focus on infrastructure during his speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

DeFazio, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said failing to act on infrastructure is no longer an option.

“Tonight, President Biden spoke directly and clearly to Congress and all of America about the urgent need to invest in our infrastructure in order to create good-paying jobs and restore the middle class, bolster America’s competitive edge in the global economy by spurring American manufacturing and ingenuity, and address one of the greatest challenges of our time—our changing climate,” DeFazio said in a statement. “The reality is that we can’t afford NOT to make these investments. The American people are tired of potholes, failing bridges, and congested roads today, and they want meaningful action to ensure a prosperous, healthier future for their children and grandchildren tomorrow. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan lays out what people in communities of all sizes—urban, rural, and everything in between—have been calling on their national leaders to deliver not just for years, but for decades.”

Biden emphasized the importance of investing in infrastructure because it would mean jobs for Americans.

“America is moving. Moving forward. And we can’t stop now,” Biden said during the hour-long speech. “We’re in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century. We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better. Throughout our history, public investments and infrastructure have transformed America. The transcontinental railroad and interstate highways united two oceans and brought us into a totally new age of progress.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said Biden’s speech seemed to indicate there could be movement on fixing America’s infrastructure. Earlier this year, the ASCE issued its infrastructure report card giving the country a C-, up from a D+ in 2017. Of the 17 infrastructure categories, 11 received scores in the D range.

“Infrastructure is the backbone of the American economy and key to healthy, prosperous, and resilient communities. The priorities laid out in tonight’s address and detailed in President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan, in addition to the GOP’s recently proposed infrastructure framework, indicates that the Biden administration and members of Congress are ready to work together on much-needed bipartisan infrastructure legislation to jumpstart our nation’s economic recovery,” the group said in a statement. “We are at a critical moment in time and have before us a historic opportunity for bipartisan legislation that can modernize our surface transportation network, safeguard drinking water systems, repair high-hazard dams, connect the grid to renewables, and prepare communities to be more resilient in the face of a rapidly changing climate.”

DeFazio said his committee will be considering surface transportation reauthorization in May that will lay the groundwork for part of the American Jobs Plan. The bill will propose investments to move America’s infrastructure and transportation systems into the 21st century and focus on creating an infrastructure resilient to the changing climate, he said.