Richmond says infrastructure package is built around equity; Cassidy discusses benefits to La.
The $1.2 trillion package was signed into law on Monday by President Biden
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Biden senior advisor Cedric Richmond, a New Orleans native, says the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law is centered around equity. And U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, touted how the infrastructure package he helped to craft will benefit Louisiana.
“If you look at broadband and making sure everybody has access to it critically important and it kind of levels the playing field, so we’re not leaving rural communities behind, we’re not leaving black people behind. If you look at environmental justice things that we are doing in that bill whether it’s remediating brownfields, whether it’s hardening our infrastructure grid, everything about this piece of legislation was intentional,” said Richmond.
Cassidy says the massive funding package will help Louisiana improve its roads and bridges and help mitigate flood risks.
“There’s going to be money in our state and nationwide to rebuild roads and bridges. It’s going to reduce traffic, time spent in traffic, it’s going to prevent floods, flood mitigation and improve internet access, strengthening the grid,” said Cassidy.
Some of the law’s language specifically addresses state needs.
“Some of it is directly for our state, there’s $50 million for the Lake Pontchartrain Restoration Program, and it’s mentioned specifically, Lake Pontchartrain Restoration Program,” said Cassidy.
The plan includes $54 billion for water infrastructure.
Richmond took part in a press call with reporters on Tuesday.
“So, if we’re talking about making sure 10 million kids aren’t drinking contaminated water or 400,000 daycares or schools are not delivering contaminated water to their students that is a big deal,” said Richmond.
And Cassidy says some of the money that will be doled out to states will be based on a formula.
“The money for the revolving fund for sewer and water that is by formula. Louisiana will get $380 million for that revolving fund this coming year,” he said.
Cassidy said he made sure there is language in the plan that favors his home state.
“I happily and proudly take credit for some of that language, so the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA will have $3.5 billion to mitigate flooding in areas that have recently flooded. Since of late Louisiana has submitted one-third of the claims to the National Flood Insurance Program we will get a significant portion of that money, similarly for the coastal restoration,” said Cassidy.
Richmond says equity is built into the package and communities will have a say so that major infrastructure projects do not rip them apart as has happened in the past.
“Take New Orleans as an example, New Orleans, the interstate split a thriving black community and what the line item for this portion of the bill is so that those communities will decide what they want going forward,” said Richmond.
Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus also took part in the press call. She said the CBC had a seat at the table in terms of shaping the new law.
“When you think about lead in water for children, when you think about how hard we fought for our inner-city communities, $65 billion in broadband an idea that Mr. [Jim] Clyburn talked about, negotiated and we got just about everything that we asked for with infrastructure,” said Beatty.
Clyburn, a Democrat, is House Majority whip.
Richmond responded to a question about Biden’s sagging poll numbers and whether the hefty infrastructure package will be enough to turn around his low approval ratings.
“Do I think it’s going to help when people start seeing their roads and bridges fixed? Absolutely,” said Richmond.
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