Making his case

Congressman Peter DeFazio speaks at a town hall before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. DeFazio recently pushed to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package he says will benefit rural Oregon.

After weeks of debate and internal struggle in the House of Representatives, the U.S. Congress passed the infrastructure package that has been discussed for months.

Almost all of the Oregon delegation voted in favor of the package, which has been championed by Pres. Joe Biden.

Congressman Peter DeFazio applauded the bill’s passage, saying the needs in Oregon are obvious.

“House Democrats are building back better for the American people,” DeFazio said. “The long-overdue investments in our nation’s infrastructure included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will grow the economy, strengthen our global competitiveness, create good-paying union jobs that can’t be sent overseas and make our communities more resilient, livable and equitable. In particular, this bipartisan infrastructure bill will make badly-needed improvements to our rail systems, bridges and highways, transit, water and broadband infrastructure, as well as our ports and airports — investments I have championed for years, both in the minority and majority, and under Republican and Democratic administrations.”

DeFazio said the bill will quickly make improvements desperately needed in Oregon. According to the congressman, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Oregon a C- grade on its infrastructure report card. Specifically, under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Oregon will receive: 

$3.4 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $268 million for bridge replacements and repairs

$747 million over five years to improve public transportation options around the state

$529 million over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure that clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities

$211 million to support infrastructure development for Oregon airports

$52 million over five years to support the expansion of EV charging stations across the state, along with the opportunity to apply for $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging

$100 million minimum to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 13,600 Oregonians who currently lack it. Under the IIJA, 23 percent of Oregonians or 945,000 people will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet.

$39 million over five years to protect against wildfires and $15 million to protect against cyberattacks.

“Furthermore, this bill will help ensure our infrastructure can face our most pressing challenges, including an important down payment on addressing the climate crisis head on by reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector, as well as upgrading our port infrastructure to help alleviate the current supply chain crisis,” DeFazio said.

Included in the bill is more than $4 million to help improve rail infrastructure in the Port of Coos Bay, particularly infrastructure at the site of the former Georgia Pacific mill site the port is trying to purchase to build a shipping terminal.

Senator Ron Wyden also applauded the passage of the infrastructure package.

"I’ve said for a long time, you can't have a big-league economy with Little League infrastructure” Wyden said. “And today Oregon and the American West will finally get the significant investments needed to deal with catastrophic wildfires and severe drought, build back hard-hit rural economies, improve access to public transit and make sure clean drinking water is a right for everyone. And while now we can put people to work to build a more resilient and stronger Oregon, my work isn't over to deliver on equally-important priorities in the Build Back Better package."

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also celebrated after the House approved the package.

“This is a transformative, historic investment for America as President Biden delivers on his promise to rebuild the physical infrastructure of our country, grow the economy for decades to come, create good-paying, union jobs, and better position us to compete in a global economy,” Vilsack said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to build up rural America with wealth that stays in rural communities, jobs you can raise a middle-class family on, and the ability to compete around the world. I’m thankful to those in Congress who drove this bipartisan legislation over the finish line, and to President Biden for his leadership for America’s working families. Now, let’s get to work and see to it that the benefits of modern infrastructure reach every corner of country.” 



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