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home : state news : e-state news November 30, 2021

11/15/2021 8:43:00 PM
Tillis Responds to Critics as Infrastructure Bill Becomes Law
"We want to pass things that are good. If we wait to only pass things that are perfect, then we will be guilty of doing exactly what many others have done: promise a lot and deliver very little."

Wayne Howard

President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law at a rare bipartisan gathering at the White House Monday afternoon (Nov. 15th).

The bill Biden signed will not address the nation’s entire backlog of needed infrastructure investments, and it is not as big as the $2.3 trillion package Biden had proposed.

The $1.2 trillion in federal spending won't happen immediately; it will be spent over the next five years.

The new law provides $73 billion for improving the nation's electricity grid, $65 billion for broadband expansion, $66 billion for improvements to the rail system, $21 for environmental improvements, $15 billion for replacing lead-contaminated water lines, and $7.5 billion for electric vehicles.

The infrastructure package was passed with support from Republicans including both North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr. None of the Republicans in the US House from North Carolina voted in favor of it.

Senator Tillis, who like Burr did not attend the signing ceremony, said he was proud to have supported the package because it was the right thing to do.

Specifically, the package includes funding for:

  • $7.2 billion for North Carolina roads and highways over the next five years. North Carolina currently has more than 3,000 miles of highway in “poor” condition.
  • $911 million for North Carolina public transportation over the next five years.
  • $457 million for North Carolina bridge construction and repair over the next five years. Currently, North Carolina has nearly 1,500 bridges considered in “poor” condition.
  • $440 million for clean water in North Carolina through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) over the next five years.
  • $100 million for broadband in the first year for North Carolina to provide broadband services to the 424,000 North Carolinians who currently do not have access to them, with the state eligible for additional funding in subsequent years.

The new law makes North Carolina eligible for a share of funding for projects to protect coastal areas from hurricane and storm damage. The nationwide allocation is $7 billion, with priority for states like North Carolina impacted by multiple recent natural disasters.

The state will also receive funding for flood mitigation activities through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The nationwide allocation is $4.5 billion.

North Carolina will be eligible for money for airport improvement projects. The nationwide allocation is $25 billion.

Tillis has been the object of much criticism from some Republicans, many of whom called him a 'RINO' (Republican in name only). But he defended his vote saying it's time to put politics aside and work on doing what's best for the country:

“This bipartisan infrastructure bill is a big win for all North Carolinians, funding infrastructure projects and creating good-paying jobs without raising taxes,” said Senator Tillis. “As a member of the bipartisan infrastructure group in the Senate, I worked hard to ensure this package improves North Carolina’s roads, highways, and bridges, as well as major funding for clean water. I am proud we could get this important legislation signed into law, and moving forward I hope Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer focus on areas where we can come together instead of pushing a partisan tax and spending spree that will deliver more debt, more inflation, and more government.”

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