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Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I thank the Chair for yielding. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I would like to congratulate Senator Boxer for her extraordinary efforts in pushing this bill forward. This is an enormously important bill that took a lot of hard work, and I commend her for the work she and her staff have done. Senator Inhofe and I have very little in common politically, but I also wish to applaud him and his staff for coming together on this issue and doing something that is extremely important and doing it in a bipartisan way.
Anyone who drives in the State of Vermont or, for that matter, drives around America, understands, to a significant degree, our infrastructure is collapsing. In Vermont, we have dozens and dozens of bridges that are in need of repair. We have many hundreds of miles of roads that need repair. Our public transit system needs help. What this bill is about is a start toward rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, our public transit and, in the process, putting a significant number of people back to work.
It is estimated this bill will save more than 1.8 million jobs nationwide in each of the next 3 years, and it will create 1 million new jobs through an expanded infrastructure financing program. What that means in the State of Vermont are thousands and thousands of decent-paying construction and other types of jobs, something we sorely need. So this bill is an excellent start. Does it go as far as it should? No, it does not. Compared to China, compared to Europe, our investments in infrastructure are minimal. When we invest in infrastructure, we make our country more productive, we put people back to work, and we make ourselves more internationally competitive. So I just want to say this is an important step forward, but we have more to do.
Today, we are focused on roads, bridges, public transit--very important--but that is not the entire infrastructure. We have to pick up the issue on rail. We are falling further and further behind China, Japan, and Europe in terms of high-speed rail. We have to invest in rail and there are great jobs in doing that. We have to invest in our water systems and in our wastewater plants. We have to make sure every community in America has high-quality broadband as well as cell phone service. That is what infrastructure is about. We have not invested anywhere near the degree we should, and now is the time to get started.
So this bill, which focuses on roads, on bridges, and public transit is an important step forward, and I wish to congratulate Senator Boxer and her staff, Senator Inhofe and his staff for their important work.
With that, I would yield the floor.
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