WHAT GEORGIANS ARE SEEING: Leaders Across Georgia Support Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal’s Game-Changing Investments

August 13, 2021

This week, as the U.S. Senate advanced President Biden’s $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal — the largest long-term investment in America’s infrastructure and global competitiveness in nearly a century — leaders across Georgia highlighted how the bill will create a generation of good-paying union jobs, help our businesses compete in the global economy, and not cost a single dime for Georgia families making under $400,000 a year.

Last Friday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was joined by Brian Kemp’s Transportation Commissioner in metro Atlanta to discuss how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will bring home big wins for Georgia jobs, roads, bridges, and transit.

On Thursday, the Democratic Party of Georgia hosted a virtual roundtable with labor, business, and elected leaders from across the Peach State, where they discussed the economic progress Georgia has made since Democrats took control of the White House and Congress and urged Georgia Republicans to join the 69 Senators who voted to advance the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. 

Here’s what Georgians saw this week:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Opinion: Decision of Georgia voters still echoing through Washington

  • As the U.S. Senate voted this week for a bipartisan infrastructure package and then approved the outline of what could become a $3.5 trillion tax and spending package, the fingerprints of Georgia voters were all over those legislative victories for the White House.
  • Georgia voters helped elect Joe Biden as President last November, and then Georgia gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate — and both houses of Congress — by defeating two incumbent GOP Senators in a January runoff election.
  • “It’s a good day,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on Capitol Hill after the infrastructure bill passed the Senate. “Elections matter.”
  • Nowhere is it more apparent that elections matter than in the U.S. Senate, where Georgia Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are a daily reminder for Republicans of how they flubbed the Georgia runoffs, losing a pair of U.S. Senate seats and giving Democrats control with the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President.
  • The 50-50 Senate and a five-seat majority in the House haven’t stopped Democrats from thinking big — and getting things done.
  • President Biden and Democratic leaders have now taken the opportunity to approve a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package — that could well be followed in coming weeks by the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion tax and spending package filled with Democratic Party priorities.
  • “Thank you, Georgia, for showing up to make this historical investment possible,” said Sen. Warnock.
  • “This is a huge deal,” Ossoff added.
  • Republicans gritted their teeth this week as Senate Democrats forged ahead.
  • But Democrats saw the infrastructure vote as evidence to support President Biden’s efforts at bipartisanship — which voters in both parties always say they favor.
  • “When we build bridges across the aisle, we can get major things done for the American people,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwannee.
  • For the White House, this was another step towards approval of much of the Biden agenda.
  • “This is about us doing the real hard work of governing,” the President told reporters at the White House. “This is about democracy delivering for the people.”
  • Without victories by Ossoff and Warnock in January, it’s very doubtful Biden would be driving this kind of change.
  • And Georgia voters laid the groundwork for his legislative success story.

Newnan Times-Herald: LTE: Republicans and Democrats should unite for infrastructure

  • President Biden ran on the message that we need to bring people together to meet the challenges facing our country and deliver results for working families, and Georgians embraced that message when we sent him to the White House. 
  • While a lot of pundits have doubted bipartisanship was even possible, the President is delivering results with support from both sides of the aisle in Washington on one of the most critical issues facing everyday Georgians: infrastructure. Last week, the President and a bipartisan group of senators announced a deal on the details of a once-in-generation investment in our infrastructure, which will now be taken up in the Senate for consideration. 
  • After the tornado hit Newnan in March, it’s clear that we need these investments to fortify our roads and bridges for the long haul. It’s time for both Republicans and Democrats to come together and pass this essential package.
  • For decades, infrastructure in Georgia has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. This Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a critical step towards repairing and rebuilding Georgia roads and bridges, improving sustainable transportation options for millions of Georgians, and connecting every Georgian to high-speed internet.
  • Our Representative, Drew Ferguson, campaigns on expanding rural broadband access. It’s time for him to join President to deliver results for working families, and today’s deal shows we can come together to position American workers, farmers, and businesses to compete and win in the 21st century.

WABE: Infrastructure Spending Seen As Way To Grow Georgia Economy, Protect Environment

  • Standing just outside the Doraville MARTA station, U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg says an investment in public transportation and making streets more pedestrian-friendly would especially help low-income Georgians and people of color.
  • “The community immediately surrounding us is one of the most diverse in the United States, yet many of the people who live here don’t have access to a car and in the last few years, dozens of pedestrians have been injured or killed in traffic crashes,” said Buttigieg.
  • That’s why he says the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill being debated in the Senate this week includes $11 billion dollars for safety improvements. Buttigieg was in Metro Atlanta Friday, emphasizing the need for the infrastructure spending. He also paid a visit to Curiosity Lab in Peachtree Corners.
  • “The reality is the federal government has not been doing enough to help, that’s why we believe this is the moment for a generational investment in our infrastructure,” he said.
  • The bill also includes $130 million to bolster Georgia’s network of electric vehicle charging stations.
  • “These cars often have two-, three-, four-plus hundred mile ranges,” said Buttigieg. But it can be an issue if you’re taking road trips or working all day, that’s where these piece of charging infrastructure matter so much.”
  • Investment in Georgia’s electric vehicle industry is seen by many as a win-win. Not only can it boost the state’s economy, it can also mean less air pollution.
  • Two electric vehicle battery plants in Northeast Georgia are set to open in the coming years. Russell McMurry who leads the state’s transportation department also notes that Kia Motors and school bus maker Bluebird – are ramping up production of electric vehicles.
  • Georgia 7th District Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux agrees: more money spent on the electric vehicle industry will be great for Georgia’s bottom line.
  • “But we’re also going to do good, by this. What we know is we need to tackle the existential threat of climate change,” said Bourdeaux.
  • Heather McTeer Toney with the Environmental Defense Fund is a former administrator for the EPA Southeast Region under former President Barack Obama. She says investing in a “clean” economy is hard to do without the resources of the federal government.
  • “This is truly a tremendous time to really tap into the funding that’s coming from the federal government,” said “But also to leverage it with the funding that we’re seeing organically and with the support of local governments in the Atlanta Metro area.”

Georgia Recorder: Fulton’s Hausmann joins local, state leaders cheering Biden’s $1.2T infrastructure win

  • One day after the U.S. Senate approved the bipartisan infrastructure bill that he championed, President Joe Biden met virtually Wednesday with scores of state, local and tribal leaders to build support for the measure as it heads to the House.
  • The meeting resembled a victory lap, with leaders of both parties including a Fulton County Republican telling Biden how important the $1.2 trillion bill would be back home—and also underlined the backing from beyond the Beltway for a measure that would repair crumbling roads and bridges and more.
  • The White House said the meeting included 1,500 officials. The five major advocacy groups for state and local governments have all endorsed the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
  • Liz Hausmann, a Fulton County GOP commissioner, said the bill would help fund transit expansions that the rapidly growing region around Atlanta needs, but lacks the funding to construct on its own.
  • The bill “provides mobility options to our community, and the transit provisions provide connectivity, jobs and sustainability for the growth that we know is coming,” she said.
  • “We can’t do it without the support and the partnership of our state and federal government, and this bipartisan infrastructure package will do just that.”

Augusta Chronicle: Mayor Hardie Davis highlights local impact of federal infrastructure bill

  • The bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday will have impacts on communities across the country – including clear benefits in the Augusta area , according to Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis Jr., who advocated for the bill.
  • “Electrifying our school busses, building on our electric vehicle initiatives here in the city of Augusta, when we talk about Go Green Augusta, our ability to upgrade our power infrastructure as well be resilient against natural disaster” Davis said. “Those things are critical path items for us in the city of Augusta. And everyone is talking about broadband, it is not just a rural issue, it is an urban issue, it is an inner city issue.”
  • Davis sees opportunities for economic growth as well as basic utilities.
  • “We have an opportunity to upgrade our airport, which is vital to us as we continue to grow as a city and help drive the economy of our region,” he said. “Electric vehicles which are very important to the environment and more importantly to us having good paying jobs in the state of Georgia, when you look at the fact that almost 90 percent of the world’s low speed vehicles are made in the Augusta area.”
  • The bill also including an amendment from Sens. Raphael Warnock and Ted Cruz to designate the proposed I-14 project a high priority corridor, although without any funding at this time. The proposal would create a highway connecting military bases and rural communities from Augusta through western Texas.
  • “It’s an initiative we’ve talked about before, for years we’ve talked about it, and now we see it potentially coming to fruition,” Davis said. “Augusta’s Fort Gordon happens to be one of the few installations that continues to grow, that continues to see significant investments, so I believe that that connection corridor bodes well for us, for good paying jobs, for many many generations of individuals.” 

WFXG (Augusta): Bipartisan infrastructure plan includes $55B investment in clean water

  • The U.S. Senate passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier this week after months of negotiations. In addition to transportation, transit and broadband, the package includes $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure. 
  • “I wasn’t going to let this infrastructure bill pass unless it included these resources to replace lead pipes because every single child in Augusta, every single Georgian deserves safe, healthy, clean drinking water,” says Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff. “That’s why I fought so hard for this.”
  • Sen. Ossoff has been working to get this funding for months. In April, he wrote to Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), who serves as Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, calling for funding to replace lead pipes at public schools after Georgia was one of dozens of states to receive an “F” in a study looking at protecting students from lead in drinking waters. Later that month, the funding was secured in a bipartisan wastewater infrastructure act. 
  • Right now the state is reviewing which Georgia schools have lead pipes in their drinking water system. “This legislation, once the President signs it, will surge resources to the Augusta area, across the state of Georgia and nationwide,” Sen. Ossoff says. “$55 billion to replace lead pipes in drinking water systems across the country.” 
  • According to the White House, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and childcare centers lack safe drinking water. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Georgia can expect to receive $913 million over the course of five years to improve water infrastructure across the state.
  • Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis says the city’s water system is strong already, but this funding would help bolster it. “It’s going to be a real boom for the city of Augusta when these dollars start flowing back into communities,” he says. “We’re continually working to address challenges to make sure that we’re providing sustainable water to all of our residents so I’m excited about it.”
  • Mayor Davis says the federal funding would provide an opportunity to replace some old pipes and systems in some of the city’s blighted areas. “This is an opportunity for us to fix systems that are aging,” he says. “We’re a city that’s 280-plus years old and so we do have some challenges around old pipes that are in the ground and this will create an opportunity for us to have federal resources that allow us to fix the challenges associated with that.”
  • Wes Byne is the Director of Utilities in Augusta. He says there have already been discussions about what projects would become the priority if the funding gets approved. One being the Belair Ridge area. “Probably about 1,100-1,200 residents on that ridge,” he says. “We have sewer designs almost completed for the entire area and that would be a priority area and we’ve already identified Boykin Road and put it in as part of the American Rescue Plan funding.”

Georgia Recorder: U.S. Senate OKs $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill

  • The U.S. Senate passed 69-30 on Tuesday a sweeping bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, a milestone for one of President Joe Biden’s priorities after months of negotiation.
  • Georgia’s senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, quickly highlighted the funding poised to come to Georgia, such as $1.3 billion for public transit, $100 million for broadband and $135 million for electric vehicle charging stations. The biggest chunk – $8.9 billion – would go toward repairing Georgia’s roads and highways.
  • “Coming out of this pandemic, we have a once in a generation opportunity to repair our nation’s aging infrastructure while addressing the worsening climate crisis and supporting job growth, including the clean energy jobs that will move Georgia into the future,” Warnock said in a statement.
  • Ossoff hailed the bill as historic.
  • “Today’s historic bipartisan vote to upgrade our infrastructure, promote clean energy, and create good-paying jobs will benefit Georgians for generations to come,” Ossoff said in a statement. “The investments we make now will set us forward on a path toward sustainability, innovation, and world-class transit and transportation across our state. And we have proven that America’s elected leaders can rise above partisanship to serve the national interest.”
  • The White House has said the bill would be paid for with $263 billion in unused money from COVID-19 relief money and enhanced unemployment benefits, $51 billion from delaying a rule on Medicare Part D, $20 billion from future auctions of spectrum used for telecommunications, increased economic activity and other sources.

Capitol Beat: U.S. Senate approves infrastructure bill with more than $11B headed to Georgia

  • The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure spending bill Tuesday that would steer more than $11 billion toward highways, transit, airports and electric vehicle charging stations in Georgia.
  • The $1 trillion legislation, which cleared the Senate 69-30 and now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives, includes $8.9 billion for highway projects in the Peach State, $1.3 billion for transit expansion, $225 million to repair bridges, $619 million for airport improvements and $135 million to build EV charging stations.
  • It also contains at least $100 million to expand broadband connectivity in Georgia.
  • The vast majority of the transit funding earmarked for Georgia – $923 million – would go to transit systems in metro Atlanta. However, 15 other transit agencies across the state would receive allocations ranging from $5.8 million to $33 million, including systems serving Augusta, Savannah, Athens, Macon, Columbus, Brunswick and Rome.

WSB (Atlanta): $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill: Here’s how Georgia could benefit

  • The Senate pulled off an impressive feat Tuesday: Passing a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that had support from Democrats and Republicans.
  • The bill, which still has to go to the U.S. House for approval, would send billions of dollars to states for rebuilding roads, broadband internet, water pipes and the public works systems.
  • Senator Raphael Warnock said the plan will help build infrastructure and create jobs.
  • “It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America. I’ve been saying for a long time, America needs a home improvement project,” Warnock said.
  • Senator Ossoff said money will also go to remove lead pipes from public schools and upgrade school buildings.
  • “This is a game changer. Congress has been kicking the can for decades on investment in America’s infrastructure, and today, Democrats and Republicans came together to get it done,” Ossoff said.
  • Some of that metro Atlanta public transit money would go to putting transit of some kind on the Beltline.

Augusta Chronicle: What is in the Senate-passed infrastructure bill for Augusta area?

  • Significant investments in transportation and other infrastructure projects in Augusta and across Georgia are among the more the $1 trillion in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the U.S. Senate.
  • According to Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s offices, the bill includes $1.36 billion for public transportation across Georgia, including $25 million for Augusta-Richmond County, $24 million for Athens-Clarke and $30.7 million for Savannah.
  • The bill, which is headed back to the House for approval, also includes $8.9 billion for repair of Georgia’s roads and highways, $225 million for bridge replacement, $100 million for broadband coverage across the state and $135 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Warnock also introduced an amendment with Sen. Ted Cruz to give official designation to a federal highway project, Interstate 14, which would begin near Augusta and end in West Texas, connecting military bases and rural communities across five states.

Savannah Morning News: Infrastructure bill goes to House for final vote. What does it mean for Savannah?

  • Savannah could see millions in roadway improvement projects, flood mitigation and drinking water upgrades after federal legislation received widespread bipartisan support to clear the Senate. 
  • The infrastructure bill passed Tuesday by a vote of 69-30 and is one of the largest federal investments in infrastructure in history. The push to fund $1.2 trillion in capital improvement projects nationwide moved one step closer for states and local governments looking to repair and bolster aging infrastructure.
  • Increasingly regarded as a public utility, 20% of Savannah households do not have Wi-Fi or internet access, according to a 2020 Census survey. 
  • The infrastructure package would seed $65 billion into widening broadband access, specifically to the country’s rural communities. Georgia will receive a minimum of $100 million.
  • Some Georgia communities, like Miller County near the Florida border, are widely without internet access. Only 4% of Miller County residents, a rural community near the Alabama border, have access to internet, according to the Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs. 
  • Subsidies for affordable internet are also included in the bill, according to the White House. About one-third of Georgians would be eligible for the “Affordability Connectivity Benefit,” aimed at helping low-income households pay for internet access. 
  • Sen. Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, have touted the need to expand rural broadband access since the early days of their campaigns.
  • Another $73 billion is reserved for power-grid repairs and expansion projects, but nothing Savannah-specific has been announced.  
  • The bill includes $110 billion for roads, bridges and other roadway improvement projects. This is the largest funding chunk in the trillion-dollar bill.
  • In Georgia, 374 bridges and more than 2,000 miles of road are in poor condition, according to the White House. Based off federal funding formulas, the White House estimated Georgia could receive $8.9 billion for road and bridge repairs, according to state-by-state factsheets. 
  • Savannah-area projects that could be impacted include all local interstate systems and the Talmadge Bridge. Project DeRenne funding would pull from this funding stream. 
  • Ossoff focused on coastal resiliency in his pitch to get money into Georgia communities. Resiliency means that infrastructure and other public systems are able to withstand changing environments. The last decade cost Georgia $20 billion in weather-related damages, according to the White House.  
  • “…  this upcoming infrastructure bill (should) include significant investments in coastal resilience to help communities in Coastal Georgia and coastal communities across the country prepare for increased flooding, worse tropical storms, increased storm surge events,” Ossoff said at a July committee meeting on the bill. 
  • The federal bill reserves $46 billion for resilience efforts and $11 billion to improve safety infrastructure. Here’s what Georgia could get over the next five years: 
  • $22 million for wildfire protection
  • $24 million to arm the state against cyberattacks.
  • Ossoff also leaned on the need to improve the drinking water systems in Georgia. The bill reserves $55 billion for water infrastructure improvements. Just under $1 billion could come to Georgia over the next half-decade. 
  • To major hubs of commerce in Savannah, the airport and port could be seeing large funding packages in coming months. 
  • Ports and waterways will get $17 billion. In Savannah, the Georgia Ports Authority reported its busiest year ever for 2020. The rise in demand comes with blessings and curses; the boon in business means more hires and more tax revenue for the state, but it also means expansion projects will further strain environments and communities near the port’s operations. 
  • The GPA is in the middle of $500 million expansion program, which will increase its footprint in Savannah by adding new terminals, an expanded train track and more truck lanes. 
  • The bill also sets aside $66 billion for passenger and freight trains. The GPA is wrapping up its mega rail in Georgetown now, which will connect the port to major transportation arteries like Atlanta. The new mega-site in Bryan County, purchased by the state this week, will also use rail lines to and from the oceanside ports.
  • Airports will get $25 billion from the aid package, of which Georgia will receive about $620 million. The area’s only airport — Savannah-Hilton Head — is in the middle of a $60 million expansion to increase cargo flights.
  • Both Georgia senators have been outspoken about the need to invest in public transportation. The infrastructure bill reserves $39 billion for public transit, including buses and trains. 
  • Current estimates call for Georgia to get $1.4 billion over the next five years to expand public transportation options. The state would could also get another $2.5 billion to build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. 
  • Ossoff proposed additional funding in July to aid the state’s public transit operations. The monies would help expand routes to low-income and low-density neighborhoods, where non-vehicular transportation is oft-hard to find. 

Albany Herald: Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff throws support behind Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

  • U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., voted to pass the historic bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, securing vital investments to upgrade Georgia’s transportation infrastructure, schools, and energy grid; create millions of jobs, and accelerate the transition to clean energy.
  • The bill will deliver historic investments to upgrade Georgia’s transportation and transit infrastructure, public schools, broadband internet, energy grid, airports, and ports.
  • Ossoff has championed historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy to rebuild the American economy, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the transition to a renewable energy grid, pointing to a generational obligation and opportunity.
  • The historic bipartisan legislation included multiple bills authored by Ossoff and initiatives he led personally, including to replace lead pipes in drinking water systems, to upgrade public schools facilities, to boost federal dollars for transit planning in underserved and rural areas, to invest in flood and storm resilience for coastal Georgia, to secure more funding for public transportation in metro Atlanta and statewide, and to support water recycling, stormwater reuse and resiliency.
  • The bill includes $12 billion for flood mitigation and infrastructure investments to enhance coastal resilience, a key priority to safeguard and help protect Georgia’s coast from stronger tropical storms and hurricanes. Ossoff urged his colleagues last month to include this vital funding in the bill.

GPB: Georgia Reps Talk Infrastructure At Chamber Event In Columbus

  • Democrats and Republicans may not agree on much these days, but at the Georgia Chamber’s annual Congressional Luncheon, some measures in a massive federal infrastructure bill stood out.
  • At the Georgia Chamber’s annual Congressional Luncheon, four of Georgia’s 14 U.S. House representatives highlighted aspects of the measure that would benefit Georgia residents.
  • One of the bill’s biggest programs is $65 billion for expanding internet access nationwide.
  • Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-West Point) said the larger bill will likely face challenges from both parties when it is taken up in the House, but there are elements such as broadband that are a no-brainer for bipartisan support.
  • “When you don’t have broadband in a rural community, you’re not Republican, you’re not Democrat — you’re just without broadband in a rural community,” he said. “So I think that’s a good example of where we can come together.”
  • Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, who represents Gwinnett and Forsyth counties in the 7th Congressional District, pointed to work done throughout the coronavirus pandemic to help small businesses stay afloat.
  • “There are many issues I know that businesses face; I spent a lot of time doing roundtables in my districts with different groups,” she said. “If you give the businesses the goals of what they should achieve and the freedom to achieve that, I believe that they can and will do it.”


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