COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – In her new role as President of the US Conference of Mayors, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is calling on Congress to take immediate action on a bipartisan infrastructure plan.
Mayor Whaley is scheduled to meet with President Biden in Washington Wednesday afternoon to talk about how local communities will be impacted. The Conference of Mayors says failing infrastructure is one of the most pressing and unifying challenges facing the country.
Mayor Whaley says, “We have a real opportunity before us to transform the backbone of this country.” At a reception Tuesday, Mayor Whaley and others said the bipartisan framework would help make the economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.
We spoke with Mayor Whaley on the phone after the reception about a letter the Conference sent to Congressional leaders Tuesday. She said, “What we’re facing is still an issue of us not investing in our future.”
READ the letter the US Conference of Mayors sent to Congressional leaders:
She says cities across the country still have lead pipes and inadequate wastewater systems, adding roads and bridges across the country are failing. “The need for this is very, very real. And we’ve been waiting for years for action, and we have bipartisan support now. It’s time to get it done.”
Ohio Senator Rob Portman is the lead Republican on the bipartisan group. He says the bipartisan team of lawmakers he’s helping lead is close to finalizing the plan. Senator Portman says, “This is about efficiency to make our economy more productive. And that will come back to benefit the economy and result in more revenue.”
Senator Portman says the group hopes to get their framework into legislation in the next few weeks. He says the infrastructure issues are hitting close to home for millions of Americans, including right here in Ohio.
WATCH Senator Rob Portman explains what’s next for the bipartisan infrastructure framework:
The scope of the bill is big and so is the price tag, and Senator Portman knows people want to see results. “They want to know whether they’re going to have fewer potholes. And whether they’re going to be able to get product if you’re a business waiting for your ship to come in from somewhere overseas.”
Local roads are important, but even the biggest issues are making an impact at the local levels. Senator Portman says ships are backed up at the port of Los Angeles right now, and Ohio companies are among those that can’t get raw materials. He cited a CNBC poll showing 87% of people support the efforts to fix roads and bridges, and says he’s getting a lot of positive input from Ohioans. “I also, though, got input that we should not be raising taxes right now.”
The plan could spur economic growth for 10-15 years, so he says the bipartisan group is committed to not raising taxes in the short term. “The economic impact is significant. And that’s one of the reasons economists say this bill would work, is that it will make our economy more efficient for infrastructure, and that leads to higher productivity.”
On Wednesday Mayor Whaley will travel to Washington to meet with President Biden to personally discuss how the framework could help cities and towns. She says, “Well, I’m really excited to discuss how important this plan is for America’s cities. We are excited to do what we can to get this across the finish line.”
The US Conference of Mayors wants to work closely with Congress, stressing that no pandemic money be taken back or redirected for infrastructure, and asking that local decision-makers be empowered to help their communities.
Mayor Whaley says, “This plan represents the most significant long-term investment in America’s infrastructure in nearly a century. But it’s really important that we get this right.”
The letter to Congressional leaders was signed by 369 Republican and Democratic mayors from all 50 states.