Connecticut’s two U.S. senators anticipate major investment funding will be coming to Connecticut, including rail, highways, bridges, coastal resiliency and Veterans Affairs programming, in the pending trillion-dollar infrastructure compromise bill they expect to vote on by the end of the week.
During a morning virtual news conference from Washington, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy said that once President Biden’s infrastructure legislation is passed in the Senate and House of Representatives, an even larger follow-up will be pursued by congressional Democrats under so-called budgetary reconciliation rules.
“This bill will be transformative for Connecticut,” Blumenthal said of the trillion-dollar package. “It will mean billions of dollars that make our roads, bridges and rail so much better.”
While funding numbers are subject to change this week during the Senate’s amendment process, the legislation released Sunday night would give Connecticut about $30 billion over five years for repairs to rail lines, and a $106 million increase for New York and Connecticut’s Long Island Sound water quality programs, including cleaning rivers and coastal restoration projects to prepare for climate change.
“Our goal is to finish this bipartisan proposal by the end of the week and then very, very crucially move to a second package,” Blumenthal said, describing the follow-up legislation as “much bigger and broader.” He noted that transit infrastructure has been deteriorating for decades, stressing that the first round of funding does not include the $117 billion needed over 15 years to upgrade the Northeast Corridor for high-speed rail.
“The best way to view this bipartisan proposal is that it is a very profoundly significant down payment,” Blumenthal said. “It’s a start. A good start, but only a first step.” More funding for day care, continuing the child tax credit and funding free community college will be the focus of the follow-up legislation. “We have a once in a generation opportunity,” Blumenthal said. “We are under a moral and historic imperative to move forward with these two tracks.”
“We have the chance to do something historic this week,” Murphy said, adding that he would spend most of Monday reviewing the trillion-dollar compromise agreed upon by five top Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. “This bipartisan bill represents the biggest one-time investment in infrastructure in this country’s history, and we should get it done. This infrastructure bill has a potential to be an economic game-changer for Connecticut.”
He and Blumenthal agreed that the $30 billion rail investment, including $24 billion for the joint federal and state partnership on train tracks in Connecticut, plus $6 billion for Amtrak, is no where near the commitment needed for high-speed regional rail service.
Murphy recalled that not that long ago, Connecticut would get about $4 million a year for Long Island Sound projects. In recent years it has increased to $30 million. The additional $106 million over five years would improve water quality while funding storm-surge, coastal-restoration, sewage treatment and storm water runoff projects on both the New York and Connecticut sides of the Sound.