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tv   U.S. Senate Sens. Cornyn Cramer Romney and Shaheen on Infrastructure Bill  CSPAN  August 5, 2021 6:10am-7:00am EDT

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gas is 27.5% more expensive. the fact is, mr. president, that packages like this one are not without their effects on the people we've taken and oath to represent. at the end of the day, it is the american people whose tax dollars we take to pay for packages like this, at the end of the day it the american people who will bear the brunt of what we are forcing them, and -- at the end of the day it is the people who will feel this, and they should get a say in it. they shouldn't have to sign on to something that was made known to the american people at 10:00 p.m. on sunday night. those who drafted this legislation had four months to review it, four months to get to know it. the american people shouldn't mr. cornyn: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, i didn't come to the floor to speak on this matter, but
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listening to the comments of my friend from illinois about contributions made by immigrants to our country that i will wholeheartedly agree with him about that. really, when i think about immigration, i think it's really sort of the secret sauce to american success. it's the notion that you can come from anywhere with virtually nothing and you can legally immigrate to the united states and you can begin to get one of those very difficult jobs working in the fields, working in a meat-packing place or someplace else and begin your climb toward the american dream. and that's, to me, one of the crown jewels of our country. it's what makes us different. you look at other countries around the world, they don't welcome immigrants. they shun immigrants and their economies and their countries suffer for it.
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so i -- let me just say i agree with the senator from illinois about the contribution of immigrants, and i listened very carefully as a border-state senator, my state is 40% hispanic. i'm sure the senator from nevada has a large hispanic population. they are part of us. they are part of our nation nation and make tremendous contributions. the hispanics in my state are -- are patriots, they volunteer in disproportionate numbers to serve in the military, they work at jobs that are very difficult. there are very tight-knit families, they are people of faith. they believe in hard work and most importantly they believe in the american dream. but i don't think it does any tribute to their contributions or their sacrifices to say that people can come to this country without complying with our laws.
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and i also join in the senator's frustration at our inability to get anything substantially done in this space. but i don't think it's good enough fors us to -- for us to complain how hard it is. we are all volunteers many what we have to do is do the hard work and we have not done it since i've been here. we've not done the hard work to build that consensus in order to pass meaningful immigration reform. and we need to do that. and it's on us. we can't blame somebody else. we're the ones responsible. we haven't done it and we need to do it. but i would just point out and the senator from illinois knows this, my state has a 1,200 mile border with mexico. this is ground zero for the humanitarian crisis that's currently appearing at the
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border. the biden administration reversed a lot of the poll advertise of the previous administration without having an alternative plan in place. and it was interpreted as laying out the welcome mat for anybody and everybody who wanted to come to the united states. that's why we're seeing these unprecedented numbers, or at least numbers we haven't seen for 20 years. and people trying to stream across the border into the united states. and i know that there's a lot of debate about, well, should we have physical barriers at the border. the truth is the experts, the border patrol, have told all of us that, yes, you have to have physical barriers in some hard-to-control places but you also need technology and you need boots on the ground. because this is not just about people immigrating to the united states. this is about the drugs that killed 93,000 americans last year alone, most of which come
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across the southern border. cocaine, meth, fentanyl, heroin, just to name a few. and when we see the current crisis at the border because of this reversal of the previous administration's policies without any alternative plan in place, this is an open invitation to the cartels to take advantage of the circumstances and what it means as a practical matter, then so many people come across at the same time, which is what is happening right now including thousands and thousands of unaccompanied children. the border patrol which is the law enforcement officials who are given the mission of securing our border, they have to leave the front line of the border to go change diapers and clean and feed these kids because there's simply not enough personnel there in order to handle this flood of
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humanity. and what happens when they leave the front lines? well, in one sector the border patrol chief told me 40% of their agents had to leave the front lines which then was a queen light -- a green light for the drug components, the drug smugglers to bring the poison that killed 93,000 americans in the united states last year alone across the border. these criminal organizations are very sophisticated. they know exactly what they're doing. they know exactly how to exploit the vulnerabilities in our law, which is why they also have understood that if you flood tens of thousands in one month alone, nearly 200,000, people across the border that you're going to overwhelm the system. and if you coach the migrants to
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make a claim of credible fear, of persecution, that you might just be put into our asylum system which then has about 1.3, i think, million cases backlogged in our immigration courts which means we're forced to give you a notice to appear at a future hearing so you can present your case in front of an immigration judge. and maybe, just maybe you can make your case as a practical matter, only about 10% of the people who do appear in front of an immigration judge are able to meet the legal criteria for asylum. but here's how the cartels -- how the transnational criminal organizations have figured out how to exploit our laws. because we have to release people and give them a notice to appear because of the sheer volume, most of them don't show up for therapy court hearing. -- most of them don't show up for their court hearing.
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so they've succeeded because of the gaps in our law, not because of a lack of a physical barrier on the wall. they're turning themselves in to the border patrol and making this claim of asylum because they know they will more than likely succeed in making their way into the united states. and i don't care how many times the vice president goes to central america or talks about root causes about illegal immigration. i don't care how many times that the director mayorkas tells cubans don't come to america because of the danger coming overseas into our country. these are -- these organizations are smart. they're whispering in the ear of these migrants. they're saying if you will pay us enough money, we will get you to america. and these migrants watch tv. they watch cable tv. they take phone calls and get e-mails from their friends and relatives in the united states. they know that this statement
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that don't try to come to america is just completely inconsistent with what is happening on the ground. so i don't think it does us any good to complain about how hard our job is or how many times we failed to get the job done. what i'm really concerned about right now is that the majority whip who is also chairman of the judiciary committee has basically told us he's going to give up on a bipartisan immigration reform bill and they are going to try to jam this through on a purely party-line vote in this reconciliation bill otherwise known as the reckless tax and spending spree. now, i don't expect that the parliamentarian will allow them to do that under the rules of the senate. this would completely circumvent the rules of the senate which require on matters of substantive legislation 60 votes
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to close off debate, the so-called filibuster rule. but i couldn't resist responding to the majority whip, the senator from illinois' statements about how hard our job is. i don't think it does us much good to come here and say this is really hard, this is really hard. our constituents expect us to fix it, and we know how to do it if we will just do our job. so, madam president, on the bipartisan infrastructure bill now before the senate, i'm glad to see that the majority leader, senator schumer, is allowing amendments to be presented from folks on both sides. senator schumer had given us an artificial deadline to finish the bill, but he's also told us we're not going home until we do so and we take him at his word. but i hope he will continue to allow this process to play out no matter how long it takes
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until this legislation is ready to be voted on. that's principally because the process that brought this bill to the floor did not involve the regular normal hearings and markups across multiple senate committees. that's certainly not a criticism of the bipartisan group that's gotten us to where we are. it's really just a statement of dysfunction of the legislative process in the senate these days. but the fact is the vast majority of the senators in this chamber did not have a hand in crafting this legislation, even though it will impact every single community across the country. i believe the bipartisan group worked in good faith to get us to the starting gate. and now it's time to allow every senator representing every state in the country to weigh in and offer improvements in the bill. i've said from the beginning an open amendment process will be critical to the success of this
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legislation and that's especially true when it comes to paying for this legislation. we're waiting for the congressional budget office, the official scorer, to tell us what the costs will be and whether we've been successful in offering offsetting pay fors. one budget expert at the committee for responsible federal budget is already forecasted a discouraging score. he estimated the bill would only raise about $208 billion, less than half of the new spending in the bill. but it's important for all of us to realize we are also reauthorizing the expiring surface transportation bill which is ordinarily financed by the highway trust fund. and there's -- it's going to require another $118 billion to shore that up because the white house has taken off the table any other pay fors that would
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include a user fee on electric vehicles or indexing the gas tax or other ideas that would fill in that gap. so another $118 billion of borrowed money is going to be necessary to fill that gap. i don't think any of us regard that as a good outcome. maybe it's the best we can do under the circumstances. but as it stands now, our debt to g.d.p. or debt to gross domestic product ratio is at the highest level it's been since world war ii. in other words, we've taught a world war to defeat imperial japan and nazi germany and we didn't ask how much it cost. we did what we had to do. we did the same thing when it came to covid, which was a domestic equivalent i think of war. defeating the virus and shoring up our economy. but our country has invested a
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huge amount of money in the war against covid-19 and now is not the time to double down on out-of-control spending for a nonemergency matter. we need to find responsible ways to finance these new expenses. and i hope we'll have an opportunity to vote on a range of amendments to that -- amendments to that end. i've been proud to work with senator padilla, our new senator from california, a democrat, to offer an amendment that would provide more funding for a variety of infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, and public transit. what it does is it gives state and local leaders more authority when it comes to identifying and investing in the greatest needs of their states and their communities. and here's the kicker. it does so without increasing the deficit one penny.
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that's because it gives state and local leaders the ability to spend covid relief funding that they already have on infrastructure projects that might otherwise be neglected. they're not required to do so but our amendment would allow them to do so rather than to claw that money back when the appropriation sunsets or put guard rails on it and say you can only use it for some prescribed uses and frankly they have more money to spend than they know what to do with when it comes to the authorized uses. as folks hunkered down in their home to slow the spread of the virus, it put a serious dent in state and local transportation budgets and all of our -- in all of our states. state departments of transportation are facing an estimated $18 billion in shortfalls through 2024.
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leaders across the country have had to delay or cancel critical transportation projects because of a lack of funding and it's unclear when those projects may get back on track. and i might say, madam president, that one of the things we've seen with the eviction moratorium expiring is that $46 billion of money we appropriated last year still hasn't gotten to the intended beneficiary, that the people who are trying to pay their rent but can't pay their rent. so we have a huge problem, a logistical problem in voting on money and actually getting it to the intended beneficiary. that's true in covid-19. it's true in disaster relief. and the type of thing that senator padilla and i are suggesting is to take money that's already in the hands of the state and local governments and let them use it so they can do it quickly on investments which will last and endure
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rather than just spend it on operating expenses. there's an urgent need for more transportation funding, and that's exactly what our amendment would provide. there's no mandate, as i said, that it be spent for a single transportation project. but if a city or state or a county has plans to use their funds on pandemic-related expenses, those plans will not be interrupted or called into question. but it simply provides our local leaders what they've asked each of us for most, and it starts with flexibility. if a city is experiencing a spike in covid cases and needs to use federal funding to buy abiggal i.c.u. bed space or hire new health care workers, they can and should move forward with those plans. this is not about cutting resources that are needed. but we know many states and localities simply don't have enough qualifying expenses to
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use the money that they've been given. they're looking for ways to spend the dollars they already have as given to them in the cares act and the american rescue plan. that's not to say they don't want this funding. they just want to be able to use it consistent with the guard rails that congress has provided and that's what our amendment will allow. the broad support for this amendment is testament to the importance of these changes. our amendment has been endorsed by two dozen organizations that represent a diverse range of stakeholders, from the national league of cities, u.s. conference of mayors, the association of metropolitan planning organizations, all of which advocate on behalf of cities across the country. we've also received endorsements from the american road and transportation builders association, which represents all facets of the transportation and construction industry, as well as the american public
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transit association. it also includes organizations that advocate for safer roads like the american traffic safety services association. i've been pleased to find common ground with senator padilla and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help build support for this amendment, and i think actually enhance the work done by the bipartisan negotiating group. this is not something they were able to get done in that negotiating group, they've told me, even though it was a subject of discussion. so now it's a chance for the rest of us, on a bipartisan basis, to weigh in and make this bill better. throughout the process, we've made adjustments so states with unique but no less important infrastructure needs could put this funding towards those uses. we're in the process of making some final tweaks to ensure that we receive broad bipartisan support as well as that of the white house, and i hope we'll have a vote on this amendment on
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the senate floor soon. our amendment will empower local officials to make the best decisions for their communities and ensure that taxpayers get the most bang for their buck with these relief funds that have already been appropriated and that if we do not authorize their use in the manner i've described, it will likely be spent on annual or reoccur expenses rather than on something that will endure for a long time like infrastructure. so i hope our amendment will come to a vote in the senate very soon. there's no reason -- there's no reason to rush the amendment process and to cut off good amendments for a vote or consideration that will actually improve this legislation. there are a lot of great ideas out there. the strength of this bill to maximize the impact of every dollar and pay for these investments responsibly. so met me just close by saying, madam president, i appreciate the hard work that's gone into
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this bill so far, and i hope we'll continue to have more opportunities to improve it as the amendment process goes forward. mr. cramer: thank you, madam president. i want to take some time to share my thoughts on the infrastructure bill that we're debating today. i wasn't going to spoke to the amendment that senator cornyn just brought up, but, man, i wish you well. i think when a bipartisan solution like that senator cornyn and senator padilla came up with, it just makes all the sense in the world. i hope we can get a resolution that allows at least 59 of my colleagues to do the same.
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i also want to thank senator capito, who is managing of course this floor process along with the environment and public works committee chairman tom carper. the progress that they have made on this issue with the administration earlier this year paired with the excellent leadership that they provided the committee really exemplifies what's possible when we work together. and it's allowed us to get to this point. madam president, reviving america's roads and bridges is a long-standing national priority of congress and is one that's taken us too long to address. we need reliable, accessible infrastructure to operate locally and to compete globally. and as it currently stands, the bill before us is well-positioned to meet that exact need. the infrastructure investment and jobs act isn't perfect. no bill ever is. but it makes historic investments in assets that will benefit every american for many, many years.
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i applaud the group for using the surface transportation bill that we unanimously passed out of the environment and public works committee as the foundation for this bill. as the lead republican on the transportation and infrastructure subcommittee, i know how much time and effort both sides of the aisle have put in to surface transportation reauthorization. the end result reflected the good work we accomplished, and it was the perfect building block for the package that is before us. as you know, madam president, i was not an original part of this bipartisan negotiating group. however, when i was approached for my input, i made my top priorities clear. one, keeping the permitting reforms in our bill, permitting reforms like the one rule that president biden put -- president trump put in place that president biden removed his first day in office. dedicated funding to states and
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their department of transportation. and limiting the expansion of urban transit programs and including the bipartisan bill that senator lujan and i introduced to clean up orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells. i was glad to see these provisions as well as as our committee's drinking and waste water infrastructure act in the bill. i also appreciate the use of unspent covid-19 relief funds to help pay for these priorities. rather than being used for paying people to not work and adding fuel to the fire's inflation, this does just the opposite. i thank my colleague for asking for my opinion, and i am grateful that they listened and included these provisions in their final product. infrastructure has been a priority for congress because it is a priority for our constituents. america cannot succeed without a robust infrastructure from one coast to the other, in all the places like north dakota in between. we need roads and bridges to go
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from farm to town and from town to city, from city to city and state to state. we use ports and waterways to move products to places that it can never otherwise get to. we use rail and air to connect with family and friends and other business associates around the world. and we use broadband connectivity to facilitate the transactions, both personal and business. infrastructure is foundational to our way of life, and it's the constitutional responsibility of the federal government to facilitate interstate commerce, including the movements of goods and services along our highways and byways and waterways and railways. rural states like north dakota know this better than most. rugby, north dakota is literally the geographic center of the north american continent. we are landlocked and rely on our transportation infrastructure to get where we need to go and more importantly
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to move the products we produce to where they need to get. for example, north dakota is the top producer of durham wheat, which gets ground into semolina flour, which becomes the pain ingredient in pasta. the wheat goes from the field to a grain elevator by a farm road to a mill by rail and to a processing plant by both and then it goes anywhere from a grocery store in california to a restaurant in new york or perhaps overseas to a market far away. and just like every other commodity we produce, it requires a reliable infrastructure system that is safe and sufficient for every single mile on the journey. the juice needs rural -- the united states needs rural america and rural america needs infrastructure. the personal needs it fulfills and the economic benefits it delivers are obvious. rather than investing trillions of taxpayer dollars on government handouts to people to not work, we can spend money on
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putting people to work, revitalizing a system that directly benefits all of us. that's what the plan before us would help accomplish. it's not perfect, no bill it as i said. and there are parts of it that i don't support. but there are parts i know that some of my colleagues do not support, even though they're top priorities for me. our founding fathers intended for congress to collaborate and find common ground. those are functions of our system. they're not a side effect. it is easy to imagine if every founder had demanded to get everything they wanted and nothing else, well, then we would have had a king and we may not have had the system of cooperative federalism that we do today. and if enough of them believe that doing nothing is better than getting 80% or 90% of what they wanted, then our more perfect union would never have gotten started to have a chance. the inability to meet in the middle is is not an excuse for
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inaction. it also protects our standing as a country on the world stage. we understand how important infrastructure is, but so does china, so does russia, so do all of our adversaries who would like to see us continue to fall behind. the chinese communist party would love to see america's roads and bridges crumble. they would be happy to let infrastructure get in the wait of american production and allow for them to meet the needs of the global economy in our absence. the bill that we have before us gives us an opportunity to help stop that from happening, madam president. now, while i am all for working across the aisle, that doesn't mean i'll support bills that i fundamentally disagree with, like the $3.5-plus trillion spending bill that senate democrats plan to cobble together after we finish this bipartisan infrastructure bill. i oppose the democrats' reckless tax-and-spend agenda. i will oppose it.
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that bill is completely separate from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that we're talking about today. they're not tied together, despite what rhetoric there may be otherwise. both should be considered on their own merits accept vatly. what a shame it would be for democrats to offer the american public a glimpse of bipartisan to only do an about-face and hold it hostage while they jam through a massive tax increase, adding to inflation. i hope my colleagues to choose to build on this bipartisan success and resist the urge to follow the partisan whims of their political base. as it stands, madam president, the infrastructure investment and jobs act would be a significant win for our country. i know it would be for my state. so far we've avoided adding poison pills or derailing the processings and i urge my colleagues to keep it that way. north dakota needs safe and sufficient infrastructure. america needs safe and sufficient infrastructure. and the world needs the united
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states to have safe and sufficient infrastructure. i urge my colleagues to keep the negative parts of the bill in perspective and to appreciate the opportunity we have today to make a difference for our constituents. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the junior senator from utah. mr. romney: thank you. the remarks of my colleague from north dakota vin expired me to stand -- have inspired me to stand and join me and also we're in a room of great significance and silence reigns, and i hope just to fill it with words, but i think the topic we're talking about is extremely important. i appreciate the good senator's support and effort in helping craft this legislation, this bipartisan legislation, to improve our infrastructure in our country. i also salute the leadership on both sides of the aisle for allowing a robust amendment
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process. there's no question but that there are many opportunities to improve the legislation, as written, and the chance for our colleagues to offer adjustments and improvements is part of our tradition and a good part of our tradition. i would concur that we do need to upgrade our infrastructure. i think most americans who've experienced our infrastructure would come to the same conclusion. too often our roads are in need of repair. many times we have communities that are not equity canned with high-speed travel -- that are not connected with high-speed travel opportunities from one part of the city to another. our transit in some cases is old, slow, and does not reach communities that need it. our rail system, particularly along the northeast, which is an important corridor for travel, is way out of date. some people know you can drive between some cities. where trains you can drive fast
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he than you can take the train. we have structurally sufficient and dangerous bridges that need to be repaired. i think there is general agreement on both sides of the aisle that we need to improve our infrastructure. if you travel in other countries and you see what they're doing and then you compare where we are, you think, boy, we used to lead the world in these things and now we're not. it is having an impact on our productivity because of the additional travel time necessary for us to get to and from work, as well as other endeavors. if that's going to happen, we have only two options right now, and probably for the indefinite future. right now we have a circumstance where my party is in the minority, not by much. we're basically tied here in the senate, although the tie is broken by the vice president. so the democrats have a majority in the senate, in the house, and of course with the white house. given that circumstance, it's possible for the democrats to
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write an infrastructure bill all by themselves and simply pass it through a process known as reconciliation. that's one option. the other option is to work together on a bipartisan basis where we craft a better bill with the input of republicans and democrats. that's the option that's before us now. there is not a third alternative, which is republicans only draft the bill. i'd love that alternative. it's just not available to us because we don't hold the house, the senate, and the white house. so we have two options. do we want our democrat colleagues to draft a bill all by themselves or do we want to work together with republicans and democrats and fashion something that's bipartisan. now i note that when you work on a bipartisan basis, there are some things the democrats will want to include that we republicans would rather not have there, and it's obvious that that's the case.
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i'm sure that's the case for the democrats as well. they'll see things that we've included that they would just as soon not have there, and it's very easy for either side or both sides rather to point out things in the bipartisan bill that they don't like, and to attack it as not being fully informative with their views. but that's the nature of two parties working together. now some would say we could do better. let's have another alternative, a different bipartisan approach. my answer is, go at it. have at it. no one's keeping people from working together if they want to come up with a better piece of legislation. boy, i'd be anxious to see what it is. but in order to get a bill passed, it must be acceptable to democrats and republicans. and that's unless in my party we're able to have all republicans in -- i mean a majority in the house and senate and white house, which we don't have at this stage.
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again, the alternative is if you can come up with a better bipartisan bill do it. two, amend it as you feel appropriate -- and i think there are good amendments that are coming forward that i have supported, will support going forward. but we must not let the desire for perfection on the part of people like myself overcome the desire to have a good bill ultimately reached. i think it's actually counter productive for either side to take attack shots at the items in the bill they don't like. instead bring forward amendments, see if you can improve the bill. if you can't do that, come up with a bill that has bipartisan support because that's the only alternative we face other than a bill drafted exclusively by democrats. i for one think this bill is a good bill on balance. it will be good for my state. i think it will be good for every state. we'll get an upgrade, a badly needed upgrade in the
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infrastructure of this country. again, is it ideal? perfect? far from it. but it's a big step forward and one heck of a huge step of advantage relative to having one party alone write a piece of legislation. i think it's fair to say if democrats alone write an infrastructure bill, my state of utah won't be real happy by the time that's done. thank you, a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senior senator from new hampshire. senator shaheen ?reen is the senate in a -- mrs. shaheen: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: it is not. mrs. shaheen: i'm here to speak in support of the infrastructure and jobs act, which is the bipartisan legislation that's before the chamber. that will make historic investment in our nation's core infrastructure, and i'm pleased to follow my colleague and friend from utah, senator
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romney, who was one of those who i worked with to help negotiate this package. this is historic legislation that provides $550 billion in new federal investments over the next five years to respond to the needs that are facing our country. this bill will rebuild crumbling roads and bridges and tunnels across the country. it will provide clean drinking water in american homes and address harmful contaminants. it will increase connectivity in our communities to bring broadband to even the most rural parts of our country. it will prioritize sustainable solutions to improve our infrastructure systems for future generations and it will combat climate change by making the monumental investments in our clean energy grid and electric vehicle infrastructure that we must make. now, this bill was a long time in the making, as i'm sure my colleague from utah would agree. over the past three months there have been many late nights,
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early mornings, countless conversations about how to make the best use of this opportunity to invest in our nation's infrastructure. i very much appreciate the continued good-faith negotiations from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and the white house and the leadership of senators krysten sinema and rob portman to deliver this bipartisan infrastructure agreement. i also appreciate the work of the chairs and ranking members of relevant senate committees who laid the foundation for so much of the bipartisan work that has gone into this bill. as well as the leadership of both parties for giving us the space and time to get this agreement to the floor. now i could spend all day talking about the many aspects of this legislation that meaningfully invest in our communities and in our country, but today i want to specifically talk about two key areas that i worked on.
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both of these issues -- water and broadband -- speak to the critical needs in new hampshire and across the country. water and wastewater infrastructure is one of the major investments we make in this bill, $55 billion invested in this area. now no parent should have to worry about the safety of their family's water when they turn on the tap, but unfortunately, as most of us know, this is not the case for too many americans because compromised water supplies due in part to our run-down water infrastructure, is an issue across this country and in some places in new hampshire. this was a problem for decades before the pandemic hit, but looking at the crisis like covid-19 has illustrated just how basic and essential clean and safe drinking water is for our communities.
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righting this wrong starts with investments in our water systems which have been severely underfunded for too long. according to the environmental protection agency, drinking water utilities will need to invest $472.6 billion over the next 20 years in order to provide safe and sufficient drinking water to the american public. fortunately, we have a big chunk of that as a down payment in this proposal. and earlier this year the senate passed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan vote the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure act. that bill makes an historic investment in our water infrastructure through authorizations. and in addition to putting significant funding toward that effort, the bipartisan infrastructure package before us includes $15 billion to replace lead service lines which is a huge public health priority and it's an issue that's long
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plagued communities across this country. another real public health concern that's addressed in this bill is the presence of pfas in our water supplies. preventing exposure, cleaning up contaminated sites and understanding the full scope of the health implications associated with these chemicals is critical for so many affected by pfas in their water. as i've heard from so many new hampshire families covering you've been drinking contaminated water can produce a range of emotions from anger to fear to guilt. that's what i heard from so many parents who had children at the former pease air force base where they were in child care and parents thought they were safe in those centers but found out they had been drinking water contaminated with pfas.
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that contamination at the former pease air force base forced the city to shut down three drinking water wells in 2014. the contamination was created by the use of fire-fighting foam by the air force when pease was an air force base. the haven well has just come back this week after seven years. it was inoperable for seven years. pfas contamination surrounding the saint co ba a -- cobain manufacturing base create an ongoing worry for granite state families also because of pfas contamination. so you can imagine what those parents felt like when they found out their children had an elevated level of pfas in their bloodstream and they didn't really understand what that meant. i remember talking to one mother
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who told me she had taken her daughter to dartmouth hitchcock medical center for her health exam. she talked to the doctor about the elevated levels of pfas in her blood, and she said the doctor didn't know what i was talking about because this is an emerging contaminant. but thanks to the work of so many of those affected, people like andrea miko in portsmouth who helped found a group called testing for pease, they have raised awareness and helped to find solutions to clean up our drinking water. we owe it to them, to all of those families affected by pfas and contaminated water supplies a serious commitment to stop this problem where it starts and to give them the peace of mind that they so deserve. the comprehensive measures to address our water infrastructure that are contained in this
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historic bill will help do just that. now water infrastructure is a serious issue that new hampshire shares with many other states throughout the country. like water, another shared issue is access to broadband, or high-speed internet service. the challenges of the covid-19 pandemic, just as they highlighted the challenge of not having enough access to clean water, highlighted just how important it is for our communities to have fast and reliable access to the internet. whether we like it or not, we live in a digital world. we all relied on that digital world more than ever during the covid crisis so that our kids could go to school, so our grandparents and families could keep their medical appointments, so our businesses could stay afloat. of course even before the pandemic started, the digital divide created an equity issue
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that deepened disparities in education, health, and business. if you live in a community in northern new hampshire, how can you attract business to your community if you don't have access to high-speed internet, if the business can't open a website and tell people what they do? just last month i met with representatives from several towns in southwestern new hampshire, another part of our state where they have been struggling to bring high-speed internet service to their residence. due to their rural nature, these towns and others like them are unable to attract a provider to work with them. about a quarter of those that live in these towns are considered unserved and far more are underserved. at that session, i talked to a woman named molly miller. she's a telecommunications committee member from hancock, new hampshire, a town with about 1,600 residents.
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she talked about the challenges that her family had experienced trying to work and do school from home during the pandemic. she said everyone had to disconnect while her youngest son was participating in college classes, and she shared a story about her son. she said he was unable to turn in his final exam from one of his courses because the file was too large, he couldn't print it because they didn't have enough speed, download speed in their house. by the time he made it to the library to print out the file, it was too late, his exam was not accepted. that's just the kind of every day challenge that families who don't have access to high-speed internet face and broadband access isn't a partisan priority. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize the need for significant investments to ensure that all of our workers, our students, our families are
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able to connect to the critical resources that are provided by the internet. this infrastructure bill commits $65 million to bring high-speed internet to families in new hampshire and all across the country. madam president, these bold investments are what we need to create jobs, to enhance the safety of our infrastructure networks and toll improve this nation's competitiveness. now, had i written the bill before us on my own, i'm sure, like everyone in this chamber, it would have included different priorities than what's before us in some cases. but, as we know, that's not how the give and take of negotiations work. it's not how compromise work. you give and you get. the fact is that new hampshire and the united states are going to get a whole lot in this infrastructure package. we also know that legislation that has broad bipartisan
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support stands a better chance of lasting longer without threats of being repealed or reversed. president biden supports this package, and we've received strong support across the aisle through the procedural votes that we've had so far. i'm proud to have worked with my colleagues to have craft -- helped craft this bipartisan bill and over the coming days, i know i will work with more people in this chamber as we move this legislation forward. thank you, i look forward to a
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