by JC Dufresne
for the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star, November 19, 2021
Last week Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, H.R. 3684, which President Biden signed Monday. While Biden’s predecessor repeatedly proclaimed infrastructure week in an effort to gain public support, not once in four years was an infrastructure bill ever voted on, let alone passed. Biden signed an infrastructure bill into law before he’s been in office 10 months. It goes to show you what competent leadership can accomplish.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes provisions related to federal-aid highway, transit, highway safety, motor carrier, research, hazardous materials, and rail programs of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Several other provisions of the bill address climate change, including strategies to reduce the climate change impacts of the surface transportation system and a vulnerability assessment to identify opportunities to enhance the resilience of the surface transportation system and ensure the efficient use of federal resources. H.R. 3684 revises Buy America procurement requirements for highways, mass transit, and rail and establishes a rebuild rural bridges program to improve the safety and state of good repair of bridges in rural communities like Boerne.
Passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a big deal—it moves the nation forward by providing the transportation infrastructure that we’ll need for the next few decades while at the same time providing good paying jobs that will raise wages and the standard of living for everyone, but it isn’t enough. Next up is the Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376, which will soon be up for a vote in the U.S. House. The bill includes a lot of good things for you and your family as well as the country as a whole.
H.R. 5376 will fund purchases and incentives for electric vehicles and zero-emission, heavy-duty vehicles. This is an important step in both reducing the damage from climate change and developing energy independence. There is also funding for wildfire prevention, drought relief, conservation efforts, and climate change research; all of which affect Texas greatly. The bill also provides funding transit services and clean energy projects in low-income communities, some of which some areas in Kendall County might qualify for.
The Build Back Better Act also includes funding for up to six semesters of free community college so that our young people who aren’t interested in university degrees have a chance to develop skills that lead to good-paying jobs in construction, healthcare, and a wide range of fields. For families with very young children, the bill will provide funding for universal preschool. The bill will also provide funding for free child care for children under the age of six, making it easier for parents to work full time jobs that pay a living wage. An important provision here in Texas is funding health benefits for eligible individuals who reside in states that have not expanded Medicaid. There’s plenty more in the bill like expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing along with a requirement that Medicare negotiate prices on prescription drugs (which is currently prohibited).
We all know that cities are perpetually underfunded so that important infrastructure, like the water lines in Flint Michigan where so many suffered lead poisoning, are unsafe and unhealthy relics nearly a century old. If passed, H.R. 5376 will provide for safe drinking water so that water lines can be upgraded using safe materials so that you and I won’t have to worry about lead or other contaminants in our drinking water.
If you want to improve the economy and health in our community do your part by calling our congressman, Chip Roy at 202-225-4236, and urge him to vote for H.R. 5376. To get involved in activism at a local level, visit our website at www.kcdems.us