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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Collins R-ME on Infrastructure  CSPAN  August 15, 2021 2:00am-2:19am EDT

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this did not reach an agreement that i can support. but i certainly indicate to my colleagues that i'm willing to work with republican and democrat members of the senate to see that in other instances we can come together in a way that's -- that provides hope for the american people, that we can work together in a better product than we were able to reach in this instance. unfortunately, to sum up, there is too much spending, too much debt, and, therefore, there will be too much inflation. my efforts to reach a compromise were honest and sincere, and i regret that we were unable to arrive at a bill that i can support. mr. president, i yield the floor.cer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, at long last, tomorrow morning, i expect that the senate will approve the bipartisan infrastructure investment and jobs act.
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for far too long, any discussion of transportation infrastructure in this country has been accompanied by the adjective crumbling. the backlog of needed repairs and upgrades and replacements in my state of maine and throughout our cup is simply enormous. americans know far too well the consequences of the chronic underinvestment in our infrastructure. poor road conditions cost them on average hundreds of dollars each year in vehicle repairs and wasted gasoline due to congestion. structurally deficient bridges often require lengthy detours when they have to be posted. slow or nonexistent internet
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connections create barriers to work, health care, and education. the recent pandemic has certainly laid bare the inequities and access to high-speed internet in our country. every administration in recent memory has identified improving our infrastructure and transportation networks as a priority, but time and time again, we have seen those ambitious goals thwarted by partisanship. well, mr. president, the senate has finally broken through the political gridlock and is on the verge of passing a landmark infrastructure package that amounts to a major victory for
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the american people. i have worked with my colleagues from across the aisle and across the country to produce this legislation. it will be picture most significant investment in american infrastructure since the establishment of the interstate highway system in the 1950's. this bill will provide concrete benefits for american families, as well as for our economy by making historic investments in our nation's roads, highways, bridges, airports, seaports, waterways, rail, water treatment systems, and, of course, broadband. and, mr. president, this is important not only for american families, it's important for america's place in the world. many other countries on a per
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capita basis invest far more than our country does in the infrastructure, including china. so this bill will help to improve our competitiveness, create jobs, and improve our productivity. it represents the culmination of months of bipartisan negotiation and truly is transformational. for example, the package includes $110 billion to address the growing backlog of deficient bridges and roads. this includes $40 billion to improve our nation's bridges. in my state of maine, there are 315 deficient bridges, and nearly 1,500 miles of poor
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roads. this package provides $25 billion as well as frebilitr airports so they can pursue the projects such as rebuilding or extending runways and taxiways or expanding their terminals. this funding will benefit airports of all sizes. the package also bolsters our rail network by including funding for programs that support crucial capital and rail safety projects. we also included funding for amtrak's national network to help address its deferred capital needs and to bring new train cars to state-supported routes like the down easter in maine. mr. president, i'm also excited that the bill provides an
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additional $95 million to support the university transportation center program. this program harnesses the research and development expertise at our institutions of higher education to improve our infrastructure. the university of maine, i'm proud to say, participates in this program. it is leading the way by pioneering cutting edge materials to build more durable environmentally friendly roads and bridges at a lower cost. i recently participated in a bridge dedication that used the new materials and techniques that have been developed at the university of maine. this bridge will last far longer it has -- because of the materials used to build it, it
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has a far lower carbon footprint, and it is a really exciting development. this is -- this program will be better supported by the funding in our bill. the energy title of our bill will provide critical investments in clean energy demonstration projects and help to protect and harden our electric grid. notably, $355 million that's included for an energy storage pilot program which was authorized through a law i authored known as the best act. i'm really excited about this because i believe that energy storage technology will be the breakthrough that we need in the fight against climate change as far as allowing us to integrate more renewables such as wind and
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solar into the electric grid. that will in turn help to reduce emissions, but it will also improve the resiliency of our tech grid. the funding for coastal resiliency included in this bill will help protect our nation's coastline and coastal communities from rising sea levels, including those in the state of maine. there is member of congress that is included for noaa's coastal resiliency fund to help minimize the impacts of storms on our coastal communities and lessen flooding that has been so devastating in many areas of the country. to further address the infrastructure needs for our ports and our waterways, $7 billion is included for the army corps of engineers to
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address the large backlog of authorized projects that have yet to receive funding. there is also $2.25 billion for the port infrastructure development program. madam president, maintaining access to clean, reliable drinking water is essential to protecting the health of our public, our environment, our families, our economy. our agreement includes investments in drinking water and waste water infrastructure. although maine is home to some of the cleanest sources of water in the country, the increasing and troubling prevalence of pollutants like p-fas chemicals, the so-called forever chemicals, require action to keep our
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drinking water safe. there has been contamination in maine in both public and private water systems from p-fas. that's why i worked so hard with senator shaheen of new hampshire to provide funding to help clean up this source of pollution. finally, and in my view one of the most important features of this bill is the broadband investment. i want to reiterate the significance of our historic $65 billion investment in broadband. senator shaheen and i worked literally night and day to negotiate this section with our colleagues here in the senate and with the administration, particularly secretary raimondo at the department of commerce.
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this will make a real difference in the lives of americans, particularly those living in rural areas who do not have access to internet service at all in some areas or who have access only to unreliable, very slow service. it has become increasingly clear in recent years and especially in light of the pandemic that broadband is no longer a luxury. it is a necessity. and, madam president, i can't tell you how many people i have talked to in maine about this problem. i have talked to a selectman on swans island who was telling me that the residents of swans island were unable to participate in the telemedicine programs during the height of the covid pandemic because they
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simply lacked access to high-speed internet. that's an example where health care is affected. there were families in other rural areas of the state where schools had a hybrid system, where families had to drive their children to the library to find a hot spot in order to connect with the internet for online education. one family in northern maine told me it would cost them $15,000 to be connected to the internet. they can't afford that. most people in my state would be unable to afford $15,000 to be connected to the internet. i also talked to town managers who told me of employers who had decided to locate their
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businesses and employ people elsewhere because of the absence of high-speed reliable internet service. so this is why that $65 billion investment is so important and will have such an impact on people's lives. and we have both a deployment section and an affordability section in -- and both are a necessity. ultimately, madam president, this bill is about reinforcing the connections that make our country more united. the investments in our roads and bridges will better connect our communities. the investments in our airports will better connect rural and urban regions. the investments in our highways and seaports will better connect
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manufacturers and their customers and their workers. and the investment in high-speed internet will better connect family, friends, coworkers, employers, health care providers, students, and educators. madam president, this investment package is good for america. it represents a far too rare example of the two parties working together to produce real results for the american people. i want to take just a final moment to thank those who were particularly involved. i want to thank all of my colleagues for their contributions, but particularly i want to log the work of senator rob portman and senator
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krysten sinema who led our group of ten senators -- five democrats and five republicans. the other republican members in addition to myself were senators murkowski, cassidy, and romney. on the democratic side, in addition to senator sinema, were senators manchin, shaheen, warner, and tester. and all of us worked very hard, and we're grateful for the ideas and the input that we had from so many of our colleagues. i also want to thank our staffs. we couldn't have done it without them. they too were here night and day. they haven't had a weekend off in a very long time. so, madam president, it is essential that we make this historic investment, and i urge all of my colleagues in voting
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tomorrow morning for final passage of this long-awaited, much-needed, bipartisan legislation. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor.
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