U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks to News 3 about Biden infrastructure plan

Pete Buttigieg WTKR interview still
Posted at 4:03 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 09:57:10-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The Biden administration is calling it the largest jobs investment since World War II.

Last week, President Joe Biden unveiled his $2 trillion American Jobs Plan designed to repair and reengineer the nation's infrastructure.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke with News 3 about the plan over Zoom.

"I think the best thing about it is the job creation," he said. "It’s also going to improve the way we go about our lives - when you have roads fixed, bridges improved, when you have better options for rail and transit."

The plan includes $621 million for roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure, but that's just one part.

"You need a broadband connection just like you need highway connections in order to thrive in today’s economy. Improving the power grid, especially after what we saw in Texas," he said.

It also contains billions in funding for upgrades to ports and the modernization of the country's Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Buttigieg says the plan also puts an emphasis on clean energy in the fight against climate change, a cause for concern as Hampton Roads and other coastal areas battle sea level rise.

"It’s going to be better for the climate, and it will mean less of these kinds of problems with sea level rise and just the increased frequency of extreme storms that are causing such an issue, whether you are in Hampton Roads, North Carolina or even inland," he said.

Throughout the plan Fact Sheet released by the White House is the issue of racial inequities and how they will be addressed, with proposed investments in neighborhoods split or destroyed when the American highway system was built and funding historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

"HBCUs play an incredibly important role in making sure that not only that Black students and families have greater connection to opportunity, but also that our country benefits from the talent of Black students who are having a chance to cultivate it," Buttigieg tells News 3.

But by no means is the American Jobs Plan a done deal with its $2 trillion price tag and proposed corporate tax hike (from 21 to 28 percent) to help pay for it.

Congressional Republicans have criticized the plan as big taxes, big spending and big government.

On the suggestion that corporations could pass the tax increase to consumers or move operations elsewhere, Buttigieg says, "These companies will be just fine. As a matter of fact, these companies were perfectly competitive back when the tax rate was 35 (percent), which is what it’s been for most of our lifetimes."

He says the plan now is to reach out to fellow Democrats and across the aisle to build up support.

"At the end of the day, we’ve got to get this done. We’d much rather get this done with Republican input and bipartisan support," Buttigieg told News 3.

Negotiations are expected to last into the summer with the earliest votes not coming until July.