MILWAUKEE — President Biden is calling the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan passed by the Senate this week a "historic investment" not seen since the New Deal. It includes $550 billion in new spending.
In an interview with TMJ4's Charles Benson, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says it represents a historic opportunity to invest in transportation.
"What this bill represents for Wisconsin alone, when it comes to roads, is more than $5 billion. There's funding to fix our bridges, improve airports, ports and, by the way, I'm not just talking about Great Lakes communities. Anywhere in the Midwest that is involved in agriculture will benefit," said Buttigieg.
The White House says the bill includes $5.2 billion for federal highway spending, including $225 million in bridge replacement and repairs over five years; $592 million to improve public transportation, including $79 million over five years to expand the state's EV charging network; and $100 million to help an estimated 318,000 Wisconsin residents who currently lack broadband or affordable internet services.
"When you're operating a small business today, to interact with your customers and especially in this pandemic era of being able to interact with your own coworkers, it's just indispensable, whether you're running a business or whether you're a student trying to do their homework," said Secretary Buttigieg.
The package passed with a final vote of 69-30. Nineteen Republicans joined Senate Democrats in passing the legislation.
Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin said she backed the bill, "because it will create good-paying jobs and put Wisconsin to work fixing our roads and bridges, rebuilding our water infrastructure, and expanding access to affordable and reliable high-speed broadband for Wisconsin families, students, small businesses, and farmers," Baldwin said.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson voted no. "Instead, the bill’s supporters deceived the public into thinking their bill was ‘paid for’ by using smoke-and-mirror gimmicks. The Congressional Budget Office didn’t buy their fuzzy math and said their bill will add $256 billion to our national debt," said Johnson.
Transportation Secretary Buttigieg says the infrastructure plan is "responsible" and says it will keep America competitive.
"Look at what our competitors are doing. Look at China, they're making massive investments in their infrastructure in order to gain a competitive advantage vis-à-vis the United States, which has been falling behind. The president believes America should lead the world economically," Buttigieg said.
The infrastructure bill now moves to the House, which will need to pass it before sending it to Biden's desk.