Jul 26 2018

VIDEO: Blunt Highlights Missouri Infrastructure Priorities in Transportation & Ag Funding Bills

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke on the Senate floor to highlight the infrastructure investments included in the transportation and agriculture funding bills the Senate is considering this week. Blunt highlighted the Missouri priorities in the legislation, including an increase for critical highway and infrastructure projects, dedicated resources for rural broadband expansion, and support for Essential Air Service communities.

Following are Excerpts from Blunt’s Remarks:

“There's no question that our nation’s infrastructure is not what it should be. The interstate highway system, built under the leadership of President Eisenhower, is now over, much of it is over seven decades old, a lot of it over five decades old. …

“It's been reported that we have a backlog of at least $836 billion in highway and bridge infrastructure, just that part of our infrastructure. I'm the Chairman of the Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Aviation… and in that committee we believe there's at least $100 billion of airport infrastructure projects. …

“Location’s important to us, in fact, Winston Churchill said at one time, talking about the United States, that the United States of America was the best located country in the world. … Winton Churchill didn't point out the Mississippi River that runs through the center of our country as maybe the greatest waterway in the world in terms of the system that created transportation from the very start. The Mississippi River and all the tributary valleys there, we’re incredibly well located, but all of these things can benefit us if we make the most of them. And it's possible to make the least of them. You know, if you get to the water, if you get to the river and you can get on it and you can use it, and it becomes an avenue of commerce, it's an opportunity. If you get to the water and you can't get on it, it's an obstacle. That's sort of what all these things are when we talk about transportation. …

“You know, in our state… Missouri is really at the hub of a lot of where not only the natural infrastructure of the country comes together, but the number one and number two and number three biggest rail yards in America are in our state. Number two is in Kansas City, number three is in St. Louis. The interstate highways come together there. …

“The bill provides a billion dollars in BUILD Grants. Those were previously known as TIGER Grants. And at least 30 percent of that billion dollars is to benefit rural areas. This is particularly the kind of program that we have benefited from, the TIGER Grants, the Champ Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River at Louisiana, Missouri. The bridge over the Missouri River at Washington, Missouri, all benefited from TIGER Grants. …

“There's another $49.3 billion of critical highway infrastructure, and that’s an increase of $3 billion over the authorized level. We've already had from this program, we've had in our state $79 million more in funding increases, federal funding increases for roads and bridges and freight programs. …

“The bill provides $175 million in discretionary spending combined with $140 million in mandatory spending for Essential Air Service, communities can almost support their own commercial system, but not quite, and still have an argument that they need it. In Missouri, Joplin, and Cape Girardeau, and Kirksville all benefit from that Essential Air Service program. …

“For ag to work, you have to have an infrastructure that works. … If you can arrive with a quality product and get it there cheaper than anybody else can, you get that marketplace. Don't want to forget broadband, as we think about rural America today, broadband is as important as the telephone was 70 years ago, when we figured out how to get telephones to people that were a long way from the nearest telephone… Rural Missourians, we have three percent of the rural population in our state, and half of that population doesn't have access to high-speed internet. That's behind the rest of the country and our state is trying to catch up. If we can take advantage of these broadband pilot grants that encourage everybody to catch up, we'll catch up faster than we would have otherwise. Distant learning and telemedicine looked at in these bills, part of rural community development and there are rural community development facilities grants here. Again, we've been benefiting from that and hope to see that program continue. We received rural community facilities grants for things like police facilities and road construction equipment and health care facilities in Dent County and Scotland County and Livingston County, Grundy County, and Schuyler County. …

“Mr. President, every level of government, local, state, and federal, as well as the private sector, really has to continue to recognize the importance of infrastructure. The infrastructure we see on top of the ground, the infrastructure we don't see below the ground, the broadband infrastructure that some people have and other people don't, that's how we compete. This bill largely is a bill about competition. Certainly the transportation and ag parts of this bill are about competition. We need to do what we can to strengthen our overall infrastructure, our transportation network to boost economic growth, create jobs, and be sure that we're more competitive where I live and where you live and all over our country.”

CLICK HERE To Watch Senator Blunt’s Remarks
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