August 10, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After weeks of intense negotiations, U.S. Senator Angus King today voted for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a historic investment in America’s infrastructure. Following the vote, Senator King touted the legislation’s anticipated impact on Maine people, including much-needed funding for roads, bridges, ports, airports, climate change resiliency, digital infrastructure, and the nation’s energy grid. A member of the bipartisan group of Senators who helped negotiate the package, Senator King specifically highlighted the “transformational” $65 billion investment in broadband infrastructure, the most comprehensive broadband legislation ever proposed by Congress, including over $40 billion in block grants to states that mirror the bipartisan BRIDGE Act Senators King, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced earlier this year.
“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is nothing short of historic,” said Senator King. “This bipartisan legislation is a long-overdue, much-needed investment in the shared pieces of American life that power our economy and our society. After intensive negotiations and lengthy bipartisan discussions, I am proud to say that we have crafted a bill that will bring immense benefits to the people of Maine and Americans across the country.
“There are a lot of victories worth celebrating in this bill, but I believe that the legislation’s $65 billion for broadband infrastructure is far and away the most transformative provision. The coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of an affordable, high-speed broadband connection for Americans trying to pursue an education, work remotely, access healthcare, or stay connected to loved ones. But for too long, rural communities and low-income people have been left behind and denied these opportunities. Just as rural electrification did in the 30s, these broadband investments will help connect every American to the infrastructure that powers modern life, and help ensure that communities across the nation are able to fully engage in the 21st century economy.
“I’m particularly grateful that over $40 billion of these funds reflect my bipartisan BRIDGE Act, which allocates money directly to states so they can utilize the resources in the way that best suits local needs to close the digital divide– meaning Maine is likely to receive close to $300 million to improve connectivity through high-speed, future-proof broadband infrastructure, in addition to the more than $120 million already coming through the American Rescue Plan.
“While the broadband provisions are the most transformational part of this bill – or of any bill I’ve ever voted on, for that matter – they are far from the only wins worth celebrating. The bill includes $110 billion in funding for roads, bridges, and major projects – including $40 billion for bridges, which will make a major difference in Maine, given that 58% of the state’s bridges are over 50 years old. There’s much, much more – including $55 billion to support clean drinking water and address PFAS contamination, $20 billion for airports of all sizes, allowing terminals from Portland to Presque Isle to access needed funds, and nearly $17 billion to strengthen the nation’s port infrastructure.
“Critically, this legislation also acts on what I view as America’s two biggest national security imperatives by confronting climate change and bolstering America’s cybersecurity. The legislation invests $65 billion in the nation’s grid and power systems to increase reliability and boost clean energy technologies, puts more than $47 billion into resiliency to address cybersecurity risks and the impacts of climate change, and strengthens federal agencies charged with defending America in cyberspace. The nation will be safer because of this bill.
“It’s nearly impossible to capture just how monumental this legislation is, and the amount of good it will do for Maine people. The work isn’t done, but it’s worth pausing to recognize what we just accomplished: a bipartisan bill passed through the Senate to deliver on America’s most vital infrastructure needs. I’m extremely proud to have played a part in this bill – and ready to keep pushing so we can get this legislation over the finish line.”
Senator King was a member of the bipartisan G22, a group of 22 Senators from both parties heavily involved in the negotiation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act -- in addition to leading a bipartisan Oval Office meeting early in the process to outline priorities, challenges and opportunities presented by this massive endeavor. King-backed priorities included in the legislation include:
· $65 billion for broadband. The broadband provisions include over $40 billion in block grants to states and $2 billion for tribal governments, mirroring the bipartisan BRIDGE Act introduced by Senators King, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) earlier this year. The bill also includes Senator King’s Digital Equity Act, investing $2.75 billion in an array of projects at the state and local level that promote “digital equity”— a concept defined by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance as the, “condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy and economy.”
· $110 billion for roads and bridges. The IIJA includes the much-needed funding to repair America’s roads through the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act and Surface Transportation Investment Act. The legislation also includes $40 billion for bridges, the largest investment of its kind since the construction of the interstate highway system. These funds are much-needed in Maine, as 58% of the state’s bridges are over 50 years old.
· $55 billion for clean drinking water. The legislation includes important investments to ensure all Americans have access to clean drinking water, including $10 billion to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) contamination. Senator King has repeatedly pushed for federal action to confront the danger of PFAS in Maine, and earlier this year led a bipartisan letter urging the Administration to allow states to use American Rescue Plan funds to address PFAS contamination.
· $65 billion for power and the electric grid. The legislation includes funding to boost grid reliability and resiliency, strengthen supply chains for critical minerals and clean energy technology, and advance key, future-focused solutions to confront the threat of climate change. Senator King fought for the inclusion of many of these priorities during the Energy & Natural Resources Committee’s markup of this section of the IIJA.
· $47 billion for resiliency. The legislation includes funding to improve resiliency in the face of both climate and cyber-related threats. The IIJA invests in flood and wildfire mitigation, coastal resiliency, ecosystem restoration, and weatherization. The legislation includes a King-led cyber provision to provide $21 million for the newly-created Office of the National Cyber Director. The legislation also creates and funds the Cyber Response and Recovery Fund to provide greater support to help the private sector and state and local governments respond to and recover from significant cyber events, as well as establishing a grant program to address cybersecurity risks and threats to the systems of state, local, tribal, and territorial government. These two programs will greatly strengthen the federal government’s ability to support key partners in the face of cyber threats. As co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, King has been heavily involved in cyber-related issues, not only in the infrastructure bill but in other significant national security legislation over the past year.
· $41 billion for airports, ports, and waterways. The legislation includes $25 billion to update and improve airports, as well as bolster air traffic control infrastructure. Airports of all sizes are eligible for these programs, including local airports in areas such as Presque Isle. It also provides $16.6 billion for waterway and coastal infrastructure, inland water improvements, and port infrastructure.