Congresswoman Veronica Escobar voted to pass the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act. This five-year, $715 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure bill will create good-paying jobs, invest in American workers and communities, and tackle the climate crisis. This legislation puts some of the key pieces of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure vision into legislative text.
The INVEST in America Act also includes provisions of Congresswoman Escobar’s Colonia Infrastructure Improvement Act – which addresses long-standing disparities faced by residents living in El Paso colonias – and increases the percentage of Surface Transportation Block Grant funds in border states to fund infrastructure critical to international trade such as highways, bridges, and more.
Additionally, this bill includes $20 million in direct investment for two critical infrastructure projects in El Paso:
John Hayes Street Extension: The INVEST in America Act includes $12 million for the John Hayes Street Extension project. This project, spearheaded by El Paso County, would assist the exponential population growth in the eastern portion of the county.
Stanton Street Bridge Intelligent Transportation System: The INVEST in America Act includes $7.2 million for the Stanton Street Bridge "Good Neighbor International Bridge" Intelligent Transportation System. This project, spearheaded by the City of El Paso, would improve the traffic flow around this land port of entry.
“The INVEST in America Act is the jobs-creating plan that El Paso and America need to rebuild our nation and I am proud to have advocated to secure funding through it for critical local projects,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “For too long, Congress has failed to act boldly, leaving our country with crumbling infrastructure. It’s time to build back better, invest in our underserved communities, tackle our climate crisis, and restore our global competitiveness with the INVEST in America Act. With this bill, we are on the right track to creating economic opportunity for all in the 21st century and beyond.”
The INVEST in America Act will invest in America’s infrastructure:
Roads, Bridges, and Safety: $343 billion
Delivers better roads and bridges faster by increasing investment by 54 percent, with an emphasis on fixing existing infrastructure.
Dedicates $32 billion for bridge funding to ensure bridges in communities of all sizes are safer, more reliable, and more resilient.
Invests $4 billion in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, helping the U.S. shift to the next generation of clean vehicles.
Dedicates $8.3 billion for activities targeted to reduce carbon pollution and provides $6.2 billion for mitigation and resiliency improvements; also advances the development and utilization of green construction materials.
Makes our roads safer with a significant boost to roadway safety programs, record levels of investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, complete streets planning and smarter road design, and safe routes to schools.
Focuses transportation planning to promote mobility and facilitate access to jobs and other essential services; and reconnects communities that were divided by highways with a new $3 billion program to correct planning mistakes of the past.
Targets investments to areas of persistent poverty, rural communities, Tribes, and other continually disadvantaged areas.
Transit: $109 billion
Makes record investments in transit to increase routes, reduce the transit maintenance backlog, and provide more frequent service, resulting in better options for riders, improved environmental outcomes, and increased access to jobs and essential destinations.
Scales up investment in zero-emission transit vehicles, supporting fleet conversion to reduce local air pollution and related health impacts. These investments are paired with strong Buy America requirements and provisions for workforce training to ensure America can compete in the clean energy economy.
Funds and incentivizes transit-oriented development to make transit more convenient to where people live and work and builds sustainable, walkable communities.
Increases funding for rural transit by more than 50 percent in the first year and sets aside $50 million a year for rural persistent poverty communities.
Creates a pilot to improve flexibility in paratransit trips, allowing for brief stops such as childcare pick-ups and drop-offs, and short trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, or bank.
Creates a new reduced-fare pilot program to improve access for low-income riders. Doubles the set aside for urban area formula dollars based on low-income population and deep poverty census tracts, and directs transit agencies to serve these populations.
Streamlines the Capital Investment Grant program to improve project delivery, reduce red tape, and achieve cost savings for transit agencies.
Creates new programs to address several pressing transit challenges—improving compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and addressing transit deserts by providing expanded transit service to unserved and underserved communities.
Passenger and Freight Rail: $95 billion
Triples funding for Amtrak to $32 billion, allowing for enhanced service, ADA upgrades, and investments to renew and support service on the Northeast Corridor and long-distance and state-supported routes.
Provides funding for corridor planning and development of high-speed rail projects, reducing traffic congestion and shortening travel times.
Improves rail safety by addressing highway-rail grade crossings needs, requiring additional rail safety inspectors, addressing trespasser and suicide fatalities, and eliminating gaps in railroad safety.
Creates a federal blocked crossing program to collect data and enforce a 10-minute blocked crossing limit.
Drinking Water Infrastructure & Assistance: $117 billion
Authorizes $53 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the primary source of federal funding for safe drinking water infrastructure.
Authorizes $45 billion to fully replace lead service lines throughout the nation. As many as 10 million lead service lines are currently in use, including an estimated 400,000 schools and child facilities with lead components.
Strengthens drinking water standards and improves the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to set those standards. It directs EPA to set health-protective national standards for PFAS, 1,4-dioxane, and microcystin toxin within two years.
Provides assistance to low-income Americans with their water bills by creating two permanent assistance programs and authorizing them at $8 billion.
Promotes near-term customer debt relief by authorizing $4 billion to reduce or eliminate debt incurred since March 2020 and prohibiting water systems receiving this funding from disconnecting the service of eligible residential customers as a result of non-payment for a five-year period.
Wastewater Infrastructure: $51.25 billion
Authorizes $40 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the primary source of federal funding for clean water infrastructure.
Includes $2 billion for projects to capture, treat, or reuse sewer overflows or stormwater— helping keep pollution out of local rivers and lakes—and $2.5 billion for state water pollution control programs.
Permanently codifies the clean water “green reserve” to prioritize investments in green infrastructure, water- and energy-efficiency, and other efforts to make utilities more resilient to climate change. Also dedicates $1 billion toward alternative water source and water recycling projects to augment existing water supplies.
Provides critical technical assistance to small, rural, and Tribal communities that often struggle to afford the costs of planning new infrastructure projects and to address local water quality challenges.
Establishes a new clean water grant program to invest in communities with failing septic systems and prioritizes funding to those communities that lack access to adequate sewage treatment systems.
Ahead of the INVEST in America Act’s passage, Congresswoman Escobar delivered remarks in support of the legislation and highlighted the significant resources that it would bring to El Paso. Click here to watch the full video.