CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told NewsNation America “can’t keep coasting off infrastructure investments made in the 1950s.”
Buttigieg, who has been advocating for President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure package, spoke about what’s included in the bill along with why he sees optimism for bipartisan support.
“If we really want America to compete, if we really want Americans to be able to live well — we can’t keep coasting off infrastructure investments that were made in the 1950s,” said Buttigieg.
Biden proposed a sweeping $2.3 trillion infrastructure package last week, which invests in traditional projects but also seeks to change the course of the economy by addressing climate change and boosting human services such as eldercare.
In response to Republicans’ concerns regarding untraditional infrastructure projects included in the bill, Buttigieg called it “just politics.”
“A year ago these same Republicans were pointing to broadband as an important part of infrastructure, and rightly so. Look, having an internet connection is as important today as having a highway connection when it comes to being able to survive in today’s economy,” said Buttigieg.
“Same thing with pipes and water,” he added. “If you don’t think that’s important, try living without it. Look, we’ve got lead pipes in this country that put children in danger. Why wouldn’t we want to make sure we have clean safe drinking water for everyone?”
Biden addressed the plan Wednesday, stressing the importance of evolving infrastructure to fit the needs of America — such as internet access.
Buttigieg echoed that sentiment saying the U.S. will continue falling behind China if things aren’t improved.
“We’ve got to act now,” Buttigieg said. “We gotta get ahead or else America will continue falling behind countries like China that aren’t getting caught up in philosophical arguments about what counts as infrastructure.”
Biden said he is willing to listen to lawmakers, like West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who is opposed to Biden’s proposal of increasing the corporate tax rate to 28%, but the president reiterated his pledge not to raise taxes on any American making less than $400,000.
“We think 28[%] is the right answer. You know, most of my life, it’s actually been at 35[%] and American corporations were perfectly competitive, so we’re pretty sure they can handle 28[%],” said Buttigieg.
He added the administration remains open to listening to lawmaker concerns about the corporate tax rate.
The infrastructure plan emphasized incorporating equity into its improvements. Buttigieg cited the history of transportation projects disproportionately impacting communities of color as to why that component is so important to the Biden administration.
“Well, we know that transportation is so important to having access to opportunity, and yet so many Americans — and disproportionately Americans of color — live in neighborhoods or areas that don’t have adequate transportation access or where it’s not affordable,” said Buttigieg.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday Biden’s plan is “something we’re not going to do.”
Buttigieg thinks there can be Republican support for measures on roads and infrastructure.
“Of course there are going to be difference of opinion on exactly how to do it, exactly how to pay for it. But we’re going to keep looking for something that can earn bipartisan support in Washington,” said Buttigieg.