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Vermont to receive billions from infrastructure bill

Published: Nov. 6, 2021 at 8:45 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Late Friday night, House Democrats ushered in an 11th hour passage of the President’s signature infrastructure legislation, nearly three months after it cleared the Senate. Now, the bill is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The Green Mountain State will receive at least $2.2 billion from the bill.

In a statement Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, writes, “The federal investment will not just repair our roads and bridges, but will help clean up Vermont’s drinking water supply, increase access to affordable, reliable internet service, help transition our public transit systems away from fossil fuels and create many good paying jobs.”

Sanders says its one of the largest federal money infusions to Vermont in history.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, says this final enactment shouldn’t have taken so long but is looking forward to implementing changes.

“This bipartisan bill, now on the verge of becoming law, is historic, and these investments will have wide and deep benefits across Vermont. It is a once-in-a-generation investment to help build back America’s crumbling roads and bridges, and it will drive our communities into the 21st century and beyond through groundbreaking investments in broadband, public transit, and clean water infrastructure,” Leahy wrote in a statement. “It is time for us to get to work and get shovels in the ground in Vermont and across the country.”

Leahy and Sanders are applauding Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, for voting in favor Friday. Welch has championed rural broadband deployment throughout his career in the House.

“The pandemic has highlighted what we have known in Vermont for a long time – broadband is no longer a luxury service but an essential one,” Welch wrote in a statement. “The more than $100 million that Vermont will receive from this bill will finally help close the digital divide that has left so many of our rural communities and families behind. These broadband funds combined with the long-overdue investments to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure will help create safer, greener, and stronger communities.”

Welch told Channel 3 News in an interview Sunday, “Now the resources we need to start that work are here. The planning and the execution, that hard work, will be up to us in Vermont. It’s going to mean jobs. I think you’re going to see communities be quite excited that the unsafe bridge will be replaced and communities that have been working really hard to get broadband, knowing we need that for everything.”

The bill provides Vermont with:

  • $1.4 billion for federal-aid highway programs over five years.
  • $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.
  • $21 million to expand Vermont’s electric vehicle charging network over five years.
  • At least $100 million to deploy advanced broadband throughout the state.
  • $77 million to improve and expand public transportation over five years.
  • $355 million to improve water infrastructure over five years.
  • $150 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC).

The Congressional vote followed a day of Democratic discord over the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the even larger, $1.75 trillion social spending bill. Disagreement among moderate and progressive Democrats derailed any hope that the two would advance to the President’s desk together. Biden addressed the nation about his partial victory Saturday, calling the bipartisan move, “a once-in-a-generation investment that’s going to create millions of jobs, modernize our infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, our broadband, a whole range of things, to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity.”

Biden also said it puts the U.S. on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st century. Welch says he expects President Biden to sign the bill into law sometime this week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hopes the social spending bill will be ready for a vote by Thanksgiving.

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