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White House: New Infrastructure Bill uplifts AAPI community

By Rhiannon Koh, AsAmNews Intern

President Joe Biden will sign the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into law on Monday.

Today, two key Asian American supporters of the President maintained the plan, along with the just unveiled Build Back Better Framework which contains $555 billion to fight climate change, will uplift Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island communities.

Specific plans include implementing accessible high-speed Internet, repairing and constructing new transportation infrastructure, as well as creating investment for children and caregivers.

The President believes both pieces of legislation will work in tandem to foster economic growth in the coming years. The Biden Administration anticipates they will add an average of 1.5 million jobs per year within the next decade.

Erika Moritsugu, Deputy Assistant to the President & AA and NHPI Senior Liaison, and San Antonio, Texas Mayor Ron Nirenberg came together for a media call attended by AsAmNews to advocate for the Biden’s agenda.

“This is a once-in-a-generation legislation that will modernize infrastructure and create millions of jobs, specifically well-paying blue-collar jobs,” Moritsugu said. “We’re planning to hire pipe setters and plumbers to enable access to clean water. We’re planning to construct wind farms to harvest wind energy and export it to the world.”

Nirenberg also added that the jobs will be union-backed and therefore, not susceptible to being outsourced. He said, “We’re turning the climate crisis into an opportunity, into an economic win where we can help better the lives of various communities across the country.”

Republicans, however, today pointed out that inflation hit a 30 year high in October to 6.2%.

“American families are facing record-setting costs for everyday goods, from gas to groceries, yet Joe Biden continues to push for trillions of dollars in wasteful spending and the largest tax hike in decades. Forcing unconstitutional mandates on workers and small businesses, giving tax cuts to the rich, and asking hardworking Americans to foot the bill for a socialist wish list prove just how out-of-touch Biden and Democrats are with reality. In Biden’s America, your paycheck is worth less and you owe the government more,” Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to AsAmNews.

Ever since the pandemic, the AAPI community has faced a double burden of physical and economic discrimination. The administration is making multilingual resources and other communications materials available to ensure the community can access resources available.

“It was incumbent on administrative officials that the impact actually reached the communities we were trying to help,” Moritgusu said. “It was also making sure that we had trusted spokespeople and community people who knew the specific issues. These AAPI communities are mainly women and need these updated human infrastructure supports to create a healthy work-life balance, while also aiming for prosperity.”

The transportation sector in the United States is also the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. In total, the new investments and reauthorization in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal provide $89.9 billion in guaranteed funding for public transit over the next five years. The legislation will expand public transit options across every state in the country, replace thousands of deficient transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero-emission vehicles, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Graphic by Rhiannon Koh

These changes will be key, especially for AAPI and African American communities who are 4x as likely to use public transportation, Moritsugu mentioned.

The American Society of Civil Engineers assigned American infrastructure a C-. Subsequently, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal plans to pave the way to protecting public health and building towards more resilient communities in the face of extreme weather patterns and disasters caused by climate change.

Ultimately, Nirenberg voiced his optimism for both the administration and the approved legislation. He said, “During the previous administration, local communities and leaders stood together against a federal administration that was fanning the flames for Anti-Asian hate sentiments. Today, we feel that we are very much standing in solidarity with the current administration to face threats that affect us environmentally and socially.”

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