BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Congressman Rick Larsen met with restaurant owners in Washington's 2nd Congressional District Wednesday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, but President Joe Biden's infrastructure package was also top of mind.
"It's just a kind of a fix-it-first mentality," said Larsen.
Part of that "mentality" is electrifying our transportation sector. The president's $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan would add more electric car charging stations across western Washington and potentially bring low or zero-emission buses and ferries to Puget Sound.
The proposal would also bring high-speed internet to underserved parts of the state. The package includes a pledge to eliminate all lead pipes in America, which can cause developmental delays and birth defects. There would also be money to improve mass transit.
Larsen noted these are all issues that impact people of color disproportionately.
"This aging infrastructure exists in communities of color. We need to fix it. It's wrong. It's immoral that we've let that sit this long," said Larsen, whose district covers parts of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties, along with all of Island and San Juan counties.
The Skagit River Bridge collapse in 2013 shined a national spotlight on what can happen when aging infrastructure takes a hit. In that incident, the hit came from an oversized semi taking down the bridge and dumping three people into the water. No one was seriously hurt.
Larsen said that was one of the topics of conversation he brought up with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a meeting last week.
The ambitious package would be paid for by an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, something Larsen admits will get hard pushback from Republicans.
Larsen said he isn't sure how much Republican support there is for the package.
"I guess I'll tell you on the day we vote," he said. "That's all I can tell you. We have to put together the bill that's right for the times and worry about politics later. We should do the right thing first."
Regardless of how popular the proposal is with Congress, spending plans like this one are typically well received by the public because, like Oprah Winfrey giving gifts to her audience, there's something for everyone: "You get a bridge! You get a road! And you get an airport!"