WASHINGTON – Arizona’s senior U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema delivered a Senate floor speech ahead of a final vote of her bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Sinema highlighted the critical investments this bipartisan legislation makes for Arizona’s infrastructure.
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Remarks as prepared for delivery:
I rise today as we approach a final Senate vote on historic legislation to invest in America’s critical infrastructure — a bipartisan proposal that will make America stronger and safer, create good-paying jobs, and expand economic opportunities across the country.
After months of negotiations, the Senate has now debated our bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for nearly two weeks in an open legislative process.
We have considered more than 20 amendments from both sides of the aisle, and voted to adopt many of those amendments.
In the coming hours, the Senate will have the opportunity to approve legislation that meets the needs of everyday families, employers, and communities.
For decades, American infrastructure has been crumbling. For decades, American families have asked Congress for infrastructure investment. And for decades, progress was blocked by partisan disagreements.
Now, as the Senate prepares for a final vote, what will this historic legislation actually mean for the people we serve?
Our bill will mean better roads by investing a historic 110 billion dollars to repair and upgrade our roadways, bridges, and other major transportation projects.
It will mean faster internet for more people in more places by investing 65 billion dollars to deploy high-speed broadband and help families afford internet service.
It will mean cleaner, more reliable water sources by making the strongest investment in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in U.S. history — including water storage and recycling and drought contingency plans throughout Western states like Arizona.
It will mean fewer power outages and stronger, more reliable electricity grids by investing 65 billion dollars in power infrastructure.
It will mean better protections against wildfires by investing in fire suppression and recovery, and the removal of hazardous fuels.
It will mean stronger water and sanitation systems, and better broadband access, in Tribal communities — as well as full funding for all currently-authorized Indian Water Settlements. In Arizona, that includes:
- the infrastructure for the Southern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement with the Tohono O’odham Nation,
- completing the Gila River Indian Community Water Rights Settlement,
- and funding the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Water Rights Settlement.
Our legislation will mean safer, more convenient airports by investing 25 billion dollars to repair and upgrade terminals, runways, taxiways, and air traffic control towers.
It will mean the strongest investment ever in American public transit by expanding transit networks, improving accessibility, and funding the nation’s transit repair backlog of thousands of buses, rail cars, stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems.
And it will mean the largest investment in clean energy transmission and electric vehicle infrastructure in U.S. history, electrifying thousands of school and transit buses, boosting critical materials supply chains, and building out a national network of electric vehicle charging stations.
And we achieve all of these goals without raising taxes on everyday Americans.
Strong, reliable infrastructure represents more than pipes and pavement.
It represents the opportunities for Americans to visit loved ones, new businesses to open and compete globally, veterans to access tele-medicine, and children to learn in safe and effective ways.
That is why our legislation has earned the support of such a wide cross-section of Americans.
From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to the AFL-CIO — from agricultural producers to clean energy leaders — from health care providers to transit advocates to local mayors — the list of experts and organizations that have endorsed our Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is long enough to take an entire speech just to list them all. Don’t worry, I won’t.
Rarely does federal legislation so directly address issues that matter to all our constituents — and rarer, still, does such historic legislation earn broad support in both parties.
How many times have we heard in recent months that bipartisanship isn’t possible anymore?
We have been asked to accept a new standard by which important policy can only come together on a party line.
While Americans are more united than our politics would have you believe, we certainly face divisions.
Unfortunately it is now commonplace — and by some, it is even expected — for elected leaders to feed those divisions on a daily basis, with extreme and hyperbolic rhetoric, all-or-nothing policy demands, and toxic partisan attacks.
In Washington, palace-intrigue and insider-drama often steal the spotlight from important policy issues.
I promised Arizonans something different.
I chose, instead, to follow the example of Senator John McCain — who, as the Arizona Republic recently recalled, “refused to demonize the opposition party and worked to reach bipartisan agreements that tried to bring the country together.”
This infrastructure effort is a perfect example of how I work to deliver results for Arizona.
It’s the easiest thing in the world for politicians to stay in their partisan corners — to line up on their respective sides of every partisan battle and declare that bipartisanship is dead.
What’s harder is getting out of our comfort zones and forming coalitions with unlikely allies that can achieve lasting results.
Lasting results — rather than temporary victories, destined to be reversed, undermining the certainty that Americans depend on.
Ask just about any constituent in any of our states about our country’s political divisions, and you will hear a desire from America’s citizens for all of us to find ways to bridge our differences and work together to address the issues that actually matter to their daily lives.
Our bipartisan Senate group that negotiated this historic legislation — and those we’ve partnered with to strengthen the bill throughout this process — provide an example of how to achieve that goal.
In a demonstration of how the Senate was designed to work, the Senators in our group effectively represented the needs of the regions we represent — Senator Cassidy in the deep south and gulf coast, Senator Warner in the mid-Atlantic, Senator Manchin in Appalachia, and Senators Romney and Tester in the West.
And with Senator Portman representing the Midwest, the Northeast and Alaska — each with unique infrastructure needs — were ably represented by Senators Shaheen, Collins, and Murkowski.
In what should not be a surprise to anyone, those women in our bipartisan group brought a no-drama work ethic, policy expertise, and knowledge of our regions’ priorities that earned my designation of them as the “Wonder Women.”
I sincerely thank my partner in co-leading this effort, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio — whose knowledge on issues ranging from permitting requirements to the federal budget is matched only by his steadfast commitment to delivering on this priority for our country.
I am just not sure how we, or our teams, will manage daily schedules without the endless meetings, calls, and Zooms, negotiating the nuances of funding formulas and CBO scores. Just kidding, we will manage.
Our bipartisan group eventually grew to include more than 20 Senators, including my fellow Arizona Senator Mark Kelly.
And a significant portion of our legislation is made up of the surface transportation reauthorization, which was painstakingly assembled in serious, bipartisan committee negotiations led by Senators Carper, Capito, Cantwell, Wicker, Brown, Toomey, and many others.
Our proposal is a historic deal for communities across the country because of their hard work and expertise.
We have worked closely with U.S. House leaders in the Problem Solvers Caucus, whose support will be crucial as our legislation moves to the House.
Through every step in these negotiations, President Biden and his team — as well as Majority Leader Schumer — stood firmly behind us, helping navigate difficult challenges. I’m honored that we have earned Republican Leader McConnell’s support, as well.
I would like to especially thank my legislative director Michael Brownlie for his hard work, and my entire policy team, who worked tirelessly over countless hours — along with other Senate staff and President Biden’s team at the White House — to help turn our negotiated framework into legislation.
This is what it looks like when elected leaders set aside differences, shut out the noise and distractions, and focus on forging common ground around our shared values.
This is what it looks like for elected leaders to ignore extreme rhetoric and cheap political attacks, and put energy instead into delivering lasting results that matter to everyday Americans.
This is what it looks like for elected leaders to take a step toward healing our country’s divisions, rather than feeding those divisions.
With those shared values in mind, I urge my colleagues in both parties to support the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and help show the world that our democracy still works, and that we still lead the world in innovation and competitiveness, and that Americans can be confident that our government is working for all of us, and worthy of all of us.
Thank you, Mr. President.