WASHINGTON — The White House is keeping up the charge to pass a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill.
Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary and former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg hit the usual talking points in his opening statement that the bill is needed to fix traditional infrastructure as well as invest in new infrastructure.
Buttigieg again asserted that all of this is linked to solving a climate crisis.
“As we speak a climate crisis is already hurting Americans and it will continue to get far worse if we don’t act,” he said. “And in this moment we need to add back millions of jobs to fully recover from the pandemic even as we build a strong foundation for the economic future.”
When questioned about the priorities of the bill by Republicans on the committee, Buttigieg said that his office takes a stance of “fix it first”, meaning that it’s imperative that roads, bridges, and other forms of existing infrastructure be upgraded and fixed to meet today’s standards immediately.
“But we also add to that ‘fix it right’,” Buttigieg said. “Especially in the context of resilience. If a road that was built a certain way 50 years ago was washing out on an annual basis it might not make sense to rebuild it on an annual basis the way it was.”
When pressed by Sen. Susan Collins on the fact that the American Jobs Act spends more money on investing in the creation and building of electric vehicles in the U.S. than on the aforementioned upgrades, Buttigieg said it’s also imperative that said upgrades be done with the future in mind.
“The roads and bridges in this country, of course, have a multi-layered set of resources to support them,” said Buttigieg. “When it comes to electric vehicles we are much earlier in America’s story.”
So early, he says, that he believes the U.S. is falling behind in the development and use of electric vehicles. Buttigieg also believes that investing in electric cars will spur a huge demand for jobs throughout the country while being conscious of the climate.
It’s a lack of consciousness for the climate that led to President Biden signing an executive order in January halting construction on the Keystone Pipeline in the northern Great Plains. That decision effectively wiped out thousands of jobs.
Buttigieg has stated in the past that it’s important for jobs such as those to be recovered but within the confines of having a lesser impact on the climate.