Buttigieg tells News 5 Biden Administration Infrastructure package is a 'once in a lifetime moment'

Pete Buttigieg
Posted at 6:40 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 19:15:00-04

CLEVELAND — Ohio's roads and bridges are hurting, with the American Society of Civil Engineers giving the state an overall infrastructure grade of C- and our bridges a D. The Biden Administration says their proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan would change that.

"In Ohio, in the Midwest, really in every part of the country, we know that the conditions of our roads and bridges is not good enough and it's not going to get better on its own," Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg told News 5. "We've been coasting off investments that were made sometimes generations ago and we can't be the leading country in the world unless we're prepared for the future."

The package also includes $100 billion to expand broadband internet, $45 billion to replace lead pipes and $400 billion to expand care and housing for the elderly and people with disabilities. Items Republicans, like Ohio Senator Rob Portman call add-ons under the umbrella of infrastructure.

“I support improving America’s aging roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure and we can do so in a bipartisan way," Portman said. "At its core, the president’s plan calls for a $620 billion investment in transportation infrastructure. However, the total soars to $3 trillion with its inclusion of these broad policy priorities that are a far cry away from what we’ve ever defined as infrastructure. The Biden Administration’s plan redefines infrastructure to include hundreds of billions of dollars of spending on priorities like health care, workforce development, and research and development."

Secretary Buttigieg told News 5 infrastructure is broader than the narrow definition of roads, bridges and highways.

"Infrastructure is the foundation that makes it possible for our country to thrive, and Americans can only thrive if we make investments across these areas," Buttigieg said. "By the way, the American people, including a majority of Republicans, support this approach.

"So whether we're talking about making childcare more affordable, which is just as important to your ability to participate in the workforce as having a good road, or whether we're talking about things like pipes, things like internet — I would say don't be against broadband just because it's not a bridge, don't be against pipes just because they're not roads. All of these things fit together literally and it's what we need in order to be competitive and successful as a country."

Asked if the administration should just stick to the areas where there's agreement with Republicans, the secretary said, "I think this is a once in a lifetime moment and we can't afford to think small. I tell you our competitors are not thinking small; China is definitely not thinking small. They are spending multiples of what you are seeing in the U.S. and that will catch up to us. If we choose to short our own infrastructure each passing day is a day that America falls behind, and I just don't think we ought to be anywhere but first place."