By Sen. Rob Portman
People across Ohio know we need to repair and upgrade our nation’s infrastructure – the roads, bridges, railroads, ports, waterways, airports, broadband networks, and more that we rely on every day.
In February, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation a ‘C-’ for our infrastructure, with Ohio’s report card reflective of the national grade at a ‘C-.’ It’s no surprise, then, that recent polls from CNBC and CBS News both found that 87 percent of the public backs bipartisan efforts to invest in our infrastructure.
Upgrading infrastructure is especially important for Ohio. Our 123,000 miles of roads and highways help link the East Coast and the Midwest. Ports on Lake Erie and the Ohio River connect us to our neighbors in Canada and the Mississippi River. And the hubs of new innovation across our state, from Cleveland to Toledo to Youngstown to Columbus to Cincinnati and lots of places in between, rely on lightning-fast broadband to stay connected to the internet. Good infrastructure will help get our Ohio-grown crops to market, our Ohio-built cars to the dealer, and our Ohio-built tanks to our soldiers who need them.
The good news is there is landmark bipartisan legislation in Congress to improve the lives of Ohioans and all Americans by investing in these critical infrastructure assets we rely on every day. Along with a number of my bipartisan colleagues in the Senate, I worked to pass the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, which provides unprecedented investment of $542 billion in our core infrastructure needs and helps our economy continue to grow. Importantly, our bill makes this historic investment in infrastructure without raising taxes on hardworking American families or the businesses that drive our economy.
The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act will make a real difference across Ohio by focusing on core infrastructure needs affecting our state. We invest $110 billion in new spending to repair our crumbling roads and bridges across the country, such as the approximately 18,000 bridges in Ohio that are not in good condition. For our communities in Northern Ohio that rely on Lake Erie for drinking water, commerce, and more, our legislation includes funding to improve the health of the lake, provide clean drinking water, and fund upgrades to ports like Toledo and Cleveland and the surrounding communities. And the bill provides a robust $65 billion investment in broadband infrastructure and affordability, benefiting underserved communities in rural Ohio and some of our major cities by improving access to health care, education, and economic opportunities.
These are only a few of the initiatives in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, and the combined result is good for our state and our country. I’m pleased our bill earned the support from a wide range of over 100 stakeholders, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO Building Trades Council, the American Farm Bureau, and the National League of Cities.
Studies show that our bipartisan approach is a smart investment in our long-term economic health, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in a variety of industries, growing our economy, and raising wages for workers over the next 10 years and beyond. This is a significant investment in the American economy not just for 2021, but 2031, 2041, and well into the future. Importantly, economists agree this type of long-term investment in infrastructure won’t add to the surging inflation that is causing the prices of everyday goods like gas and groceries to rise.
The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act is good for Ohio and good for our nation, and our kids and our grandkids will thank us for the down payment we are making on constructing the high-quality American infrastructure we need for today and tomorrow. The House of Representatives should follow the Senate’s lead and pass this bill on its own merits without any further delay so it can be signed into law and begin to help Ohio communities.
Rob Portman (R-OH) is a U.S. Senator for Ohio. He can be reached at 1-202-224-3353. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.