Opinion: Let’s move Oregon forward and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill

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Kurt Schrader

Schrader, a Democrat, has represented Oregon 5th Congressional District since 2009.

From the Central Oregon Coast to the Willamette Valley, the congressional district I represent one of the most geographically, economically and politically diverse districts in the country. But sometimes there are basic needs that go beyond regions and party lines for universal support. One of these requirements is transforming our transportation, water, energy and broadband infrastructure into a system that works for everyone. Investment is vital to ensure a successful long-term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and restore our global competitiveness.

Oregon, like so many states across the country, is struggling to meet our unique infrastructure requirements, but history shows that it doesn’t have to be. The United States was the world leader in infrastructure investments for much of the 20th century. But that is no longer the case. The American Society of Civil Engineers publishes an annual report on the various infrastructure systems across the country. Every testimony shows that we are falling further and further behind. These delayed investments have a direct impact on Oregonians. It increases the prices of our goods and services; it extends our journeys; it pollutes our planet; it costs us millions of jobs helping to sustain our local communities; and it makes us less competitive in the international market.

I have long called for comprehensive infrastructure bills that put real investments into our failing system. That’s why I’m campaigning for the largest ever investment in American infrastructure – the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. When talks between the White House and the Senate stalled earlier this year over the infrastructure portion of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, my bipartisan problem-solver committee stepped in with a draft framework to show a way forward . The final result? Democrats and Republicans came together to find common ground and put together a historic package that will make the largest investment in our highway system since the Eisenhower administration; largest investment in rail passenger transport since Amtrak was founded; and the largest investments in public transportation, clean power transmission, broadband, and clean drinking water and sewage programs in American history – all creating millions of well-paying jobs.

Real dollars from this landmark piece of legislation will flow directly to our local communities and make great profits for Oregon. That includes $ 3.4 billion for Oregon highways, nearly $ 750 million for Oregon public transportation, and at least $ 100 million to ensure every Oregonian has access to affordable and reliable high-speed broadband , no matter where he lives – including nearly 137,000 Oregonians who currently lack Internet access. The bill will also fund a significant expansion of our electric vehicle charging network and power transmission that will help alleviate the fear of electric vehicle range in Oregon and combat the climate crisis. We must not let these far-reaching investments fall by the wayside, especially at a critical moment when the country is recovering from the pandemic and is on its way to economic recovery.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Bill was passed in the Senate with the support of 69 Senators, including Mitch McConnell and Bernie Sanders, only to get stuck in the House of Representatives despite leadership promises to move it forward. This essential bipartisan bill is ready to go on its own and shouldn’t be left in suspension while we wait to consider separate laws. I urge my colleagues to send this fiscally responsible physical infrastructure bill to the President’s desk immediately.

I came to Washington to get things done, and I’m committed to getting the historic investments across the line because families and businesses in Oregon don’t make less money.

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