United States Congressman G.K. Butterfield said he is confident a major infrastructure bill which comes with the endorsement of 67 senators will become law.
Butterfield made his comments during the work session of Roanoke Rapids City Council Tuesday night and had been invited to speak.
“The big one I want you to pay attention to is infrastructure,” he said. “You need new infrastructure in this city. You need it badly. Your water, your sewer, your bridges, your highways, your state roads, they are in need of repair.”
Also included in the package is broadband. “We’ve been working on the idea of broadband for years. We were pretty close at one time with a Republican administration — it fell apart. It was probably a little bit of blame on both sides of the spectrum but I won’t go there.”
The Democratic congressman from Wilson said on Sunday 67 senators reached an agreement on a bi-partisan infrastructure bill “that has tremendous potential for us here in Eastern North Carolina. It’s going to be a big deal over the next few days, next few weeks. We’ve got to get it passed.”
Democrats wanted a $2 trillion appropriation, he said, while Republicans wanted between $200 to $300 billion, “so Sunday night we cut a deal.”
The proposed bill comes with a $550 billion price tag. “We’re going to add that to the $450 billion we were already planning to spend budgetarily which is a trillion dollars. So over the next five years that money is going to go out the door and it’s going to go out pretty significantly.”
As currently proposed, Butterfield said the bill comes with the following appropriations:
$110 billion for roads and bridges
$66 billion for passenger rail
$11 billion for safety programs
$39 billion for transit
$25 billion for airports
$17 billion for ports and waterways
$46 billion for other infrastructure
$7 billion for low-carbon zero-emission school busses and ferries
$55 billion for water infrastructure
$73 billion for power and electric grid infrastructure
$65 billion for broadband
Of the $65 billion proposed for broadband, $46 billion of that would be in state grants to each state based on a per capita formula. “There’s some details that go with that to make sure that the big boys don’t skim it off the top and the guys at the bottom end don’t get anything. We’ve got some guardrails built into the legislation.”
Passage of the bill would mean the deployment of broadband “in every single community in the United States over the next five years and hopefully it can be done sooner than that.
“Pay attention to infrastructure because it is going to happen. I was a little leary until 67 senators came out of the deal on Sunday night. I was jumping for joy because we can get it out of the House. We have our little squabbles over there but usually we’re united. President Biden has given all of his energy to try to make that happen.”
Butterfield also discussed the HOPE Program and the promise it holds for tenants behind on their rent. “A lot of your constituents because of COVID have been unable to pay their rent. Are there some people who are manipulating the system? Yes. But for the most part, no. We have people who are genuinely out of work who are income deprived and cannot pay their rent.”
Many of them have young children at home and need assistance, the congressman said. “We have enacted legislation to help them with rental assistance.”
But, he said, people have to know about it. “There are people four, five, six months behind on their rent who don’t know about it. The money is there for the asking. They can go online, they can fill out a user-friendly form.”
The program is not really verified but any misrepresentations will be discovered, he said.
The program offers a 14- to 18-day turnaround. “They will pay every day of past due rent plus three months in advance.”
Checks are made payable to the landlord and not the tenant. “The money is in the pipeline, the money is on the table waiting for them.”
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