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Bennet touts ‘historic investment’ in 21st century infrastructure as Senate passes bill

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August 10, 2021, 11:41 am

By an overwhelmingly bipartisan margin of 69-30, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill to invest in the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, while also significantly bolstering spending on climate change resiliency, public transportation and broadband — all key components of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Sen. Michael Bennet.
Sen. Michael Bennet

The bill now heads to the U.S. House, where Democrats will likely hold off voting on it until they’re presented with a companion $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill to invest in human infrastructure. Republicans largely do not support that effort, which would have to pass on party lines but could then avoid a GOP filibuster.

As for the long-promised infrastructure bill, it picked up yes votes from 19 Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Every Democrat voted for the infrastructure bill, including both Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper.

Here’s a press release from Bennet, including a statement from the Democrat and outlining how the bill breaks down spending and directly benefits Colorado:

Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA):

“Over the last several years, the American people have lost faith in the Senate’s ability to come together and accomplish anything meaningful for them. Today, for the first time in a long time, we made a historic investment to build 21st century infrastructure and create good-paying jobs.

“But we need to do more to invest in the Colorado families, workers, and kids that traditionally have been an afterthought in Washington. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build an economy that works for everyone and address our biggest challenges, like economic inequality, the threat of climate change, and a rising China.”

The IIJA passed with key Bennet-led initiatives, including:

·       The Bennet-Hoeven amendment to formally authorize the United States Department of Agriculture’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative. 

·       The largest ever single federal broadband investment, consistent with Bennet’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act that he introduced with U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) this year. 

·       $300 million over five years for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) to address an estimated backlog of $200 million. Bennet has continued to push for increased EWP funding to help Colorado communities recover from wildfires, and earlier this year, Bennet and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced the MATCH Act to remove hurdles to securing funding through the EWP and help communities act quickly to mitigate damage while protecting their watersheds and infrastructure.

·       The Carbon Capture Improvement Act, legislation Bennet and Portman introduced earlier this year, which will make it easier for power plants and industrial facilities to finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage equipment, as well as direct air capture projects through the use of tax-exempt private activity bonds.

·       Robust funding for water infrastructure for Tribal communities, consistent with Bennet’s Tribal Access to Clean Water Act with U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). 

·       Robust funding for western water infrastructure. In June, Bennet joined his colleagues in calling on Senate leadership to prioritize funding for natural infrastructure restoration, resilience, and reclamation, including major investments in water infrastructure. Bennet and his colleagues also urged the Biden Administration to include western water priorities in their infrastructure proposal. 

·       Bennet and Portman’s Automatic Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Major Disasters and Critical Events Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code to permit the Secretary of the Treasury to extend the tax filing deadline for all taxpayers affected by federally declared disasters, national emergencies, and terrorist or military action.

·       $4.7 billion for programs to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned wells on Federal, State, and Tribal lands, consistent with provisions in Bennet’s Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act introduced earlier this year. This will reduce methane emissions which will protect our climate, restore wildlife habitat, and create good-paying jobs.

·       Bennet’s Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act and the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act, legislation Bennetintroduced to protect the energy grid from cyber-attacks. 

·       An extension of the Secure Rural Schools program through 2023. Bennet has continued to support SRS and introduced legislation in February to reauthorize the program.

·       Authorization for the Department of Transportation to return $28.9 million, plus interest, for a deposit that the Regional Transportation District made to secure a federal loan to redevelop Denver’s Union Station, which Bennet has supported.

Delivering for Colorado

·       $3.7 billion for highway projects. 

·       $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs.

·       $917 million to improve public transportation. 

·       $57 million to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network throughout the state. 

·       A minimum of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state.

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