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Build back better does have a ring to it. The alliterative slogan worked brilliantly for President-elect Joe Biden, whose inauguration takes place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20. Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation, has committed to turn the slogan into reality.
The secretary-designate, scheduled to appear before a Senate Committee on Jan. 21, has listed plenty of programs and systems in need of rebuilding back, better: Freight corridors on land and sea merit upgrades to enhance the movement of goods across the country. Features at airports, bridges, tunnels and ports must accommodate new forms of technology. Transit requires impressive investments to further facilitate the movement of commuters and students during and after the coronavirus pandemic (Biden proposed $20 billion for the mode in a new COVID-19 relief package).
Echoing Biden’s sentiment, Buttigieg affirmed that the time has arrived for mobility grids’ designs to respond to climate change. The frequency of severe weather events are hindering coastal roadways, structures and rail.
“This administration can deliver policies and resources in transportation that will create jobs, rise to the climate challenge and equitably serve all Americans — all while continuing to ensure the safety of travelers and workers alike,” the nominee said last month. “America has given President-elect Biden a mandate to build back better, and Step 1 in building back better, literally, is to build. The U.S. should lead the way — and under this administration, I know it will.”
Modernizing every aspect of the nation’s transportation networks necessitates engagement from users, as well as operators. To help with realizing the administration’s infrastructure wish list, Buttigieg is seeking input from stakeholders. Thus far, their response has been promising.
“Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure is not only one of the fastest and most direct ways to create new jobs and spur economic growth now, but also it will sustain our modern economy for the long term,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue said.
The chamber is leading a coalition calling on federal lawmakers to approve a massive infrastructure bill prior to July 4. If it succeeds, it could mean less time stuck in traffic.
The Week Ahead (Eastern time)
Jan. 20: Presidential inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.
Jan. 21, 10 a.m.: The Senate Commerce Committee meets to consider the nomination of Pete Buttigieg to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Meanwhile, infrastructure advancements are alive and well in Africa.
Democrats in control of Congress have yet to announce a schedule for the consideration of Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid measure. The proposal includes $20 billion for transit systems.
Also in the relief package:
• $350 billion for state and local governments
• $130 billion for school reopenings
• $160 billion for a nationwide vaccination program
• $30 billion in rental assistance
• $25 billion for child care/food assistance/emergency paid leave
• $1,400 in direct payment assistance
Biden nominated Polly Trottenberg to be deputy transportation secretary. Trottenberg was transportation commissioner for New York City from 2014 to 2020.
Exciting times ahead?
Extreme security at the country’s seat of government.
Alert on Capitol Hill: US Capitol complex is currently on lockdown due to an external security threat. US Capitol Police notice sent to lawmakers and staff: "Stay indoors and away from windows and doors." pic.twitter.com/nzJlI6SCfP— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) January 18, 2021
The Last Word
We have many disagreements in the country, but we should all agree: The urgent need to secure our borders, protect our homeland, and allow law enforcement to fulfill its mission without political interference.
President Donald Trump on Jan. 12
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