“We need this first-step infrastructure package not only because we need upgrades and improvements urgently, but because we need the job opportunities that our infrastructure projects will create.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, released the following statement on the bipartisan infrastructure package.
“We all may not agree on how our federal investments should be prioritized, but this bipartisan agreement shows the nation that we can work together to face the generational challenges of improving our vital networks — transportation, water, and communications — the systems that connect us, keep us competitive, and support the quality of life in our communities. Our needs go well beyond short, easy fixes. I applaud the president for his leadership and his commitment to earnest discussions with senators. I thank my colleagues for bringing this agreement forward after weeks of hard work. I spoke with many of them, many times a day throughout this process to help keep this package on track.
“I am prepared to support this package because my home state of Maryland, along with the rest of the country, has a backlog of infrastructure needs in all types of infrastructure and across all modes of transportation, particularly transit. We have rural areas, urban centers, and major metropolitan regions urgently awaiting federal investment. This is the largest surface transportation reauthorization bill in our history and our largest investment in transit projects. Marylanders will be pleased to see this includes funds for ecosystem restoration, with $238 million invested in the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program over five years.
“We need this first-step infrastructure package not only because we need upgrades and improvements urgently, but because we need the job opportunities that our infrastructure projects will create.
“While I am proud that we are taking overdue action to improve and modernize our nation’s infrastructure, as Chair of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, I am disappointed that portions of this bill are paid for by taking away aid intended for small businesses. This pandemic is far from over, especially for America’s small businesses. Now is not the time to pull the rug out from their recovery. I intend to work with my colleagues to add additional funds back to programs to support our small businesses, such as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is woefully underfunded.
“Lastly, clean, safe water should not be a partisan issue. While this bipartisan framework provides funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, including removing lead pipes, it fails to fully address the threat of climate change or support low-income households that are struggling to pay water utility bills. I will continue to fight for investing in water customer assistance programs and resilience grants for water systems to prepare for extreme weather and sea-level rise.”