August 02, 2021
Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement regarding the newly-released text of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal:
“Our nation is at a critical juncture. As we work to beat this pandemic and build a stronger and more inclusive economy, we must seize this opportunity to generate more good-paying jobs, tackle the climate crisis, and ensure that every American has a chance for a bright future. While we already provided emergency relief to our families, small businesses, and workers in the American Rescue Plan, this Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is the first major step to ensuring that we are not just building back, but building back better.
“This deal includes key elements of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, such as large investments in modernizing and expanding our infrastructure – including our transit systems, railways, and clean water systems – and repairing our roads, bridges, and tunnels. Importantly, it also has critical investments to build the backbone for a modern, 21st Century economy, including funds to expand broadband to end the digital divide and to build out our clean energy grid and electric charging stations.
“I was also proud to secure key elements in this plan to support Maryland directly – including provisions I authored to re-unite communities that had been split apart by 1960s federal transportation projects like the Highway to Nowhere in West Baltimore. We also secured $238 million in funding for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program, reauthorized the $150 million annual federal contribution for WMATA for another ten years, and included provisions I wrote to better protect our frontline transit workers. We also succeeded in including a provision to keep federal funding for the Baltimore Red Line metro project alive, despite the Governor’s decision to pull the plug on this crucial investment. In addition, as I highlighted with Secretary Buttigieg in Baltimore last week, this deal provides a $17 billion investment in ports across the country. The Port of Baltimore is a key asset to our state and a powerful engine for jobs throughout the Baltimore area. Finally, even before the pandemic began, I was working to connect every student, household, and business with high-speed internet and expand the use of clean energy – and those investments in this bill will help keep Marylanders at the cutting edge of the global economy.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill will be an important step forward, but it is only a portion of the Build Back Better agenda. We must also pass a much more aggressive plan to meet the climate crisis; adopt the key elements of President Biden’s American Families Plan; and cut the rising costs of prescription drugs, health care, child care, and other essentials for American families. Republicans have opposed that part of the President’s plan, but we are determined to get it all done for America’s workers, families, small businesses, students, and seniors. Taken together, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and the American Families Plan will help build a more inclusive economy with more shared prosperity for all.”
In his role on the Appropriations and Budget Committees, Senator Van Hollen worked to secure the following in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal:
· Provisions of his, Senator Cardin, and Senator Carper’s Reconnecting Communities Act to remove harmful infrastructure projects of the past in order to reunite neighborhoods. The legislation was based on a pilot program Senator Van Hollen authored in 2019 aimed at addressing the Highway to Nowhere in West Baltimore.
· $238 million in funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and meet the pollution reduction targets of the Bay Agreement.
· Provisions of his Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act to help improve safety for frontline transit workers and commuters.
· $42.250 billion to expand broadband to get more Americans across the country online and $14.2 billion to make broadband more affordable for low-income Americans.
· Reauthorization of WMATA at $150 million annually and provisions to strengthen the WMATA Inspector General’s authority in order to improve oversight and safety. This funding continues the investment the federal government authorized in 2008 via then-Congressman Van Hollen’s bipartisan amendment to the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.
· $8 billion for Capital Investment Grants, the Federal Transit Administration program that supports the Purple Line and had previously supported the Red Line project in Baltimore City and language to ensure consideration of projects previously in the program, such as the Red Line.
· $17 billion for ports across the country. The Port of Baltimore is a key asset to our state and powerful economic driver for Baltimore and the region.