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“Los Angeles is ready”: Congress invests over a trillion in infrastructure

President Biden is set to sign the historic legislation next week.

By Matthew Royer, Political News Editor

U.S. Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package on Nov. 5, sending the bill to the president’s desk.

A landmark piece of President Joe Biden’s agenda, the legislation was passed with bipartisan support, with 13 Republican members of Congress crossing over party lines. H.R.3684, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, makes the largest ever investment in American transit, passenger rail, clean water infrastructure, broadband internet and focuses on rebuilding the United States’ electrical grid. Among the 228 votes to send the bill to the president was Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), representing Valley Glen and other communities across Los Angeles.

“A lot of jobs are coming to the Valley,” said Cárdenas. “One of the problems we see right now is not enough men and women in trade. Valley College has been at the front of that challenge, but Southern California used to be the manufacturing juggernaut of the country. With this investment from the federal government, we are ready. Los Angeles is ready.”

Passing the U.S. Senate on Aug. 10, the bill sat in the house chambers for months as Congress debated the amendments suggested by the upper chamber. The vote came down to negotiations between the House Progressive Caucus and a half-dozen moderate democrats, spearheaded by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) respectively. As part of an agreement between the two groups, the House Democratic Caucus pushed back the vote for Build Back Better, Biden’s signature legislation, to the week of Nov. 15.

If passed together with the infrastructure bill, the agenda is estimated to create an average of 2 million jobs each year over the next decade, according to Cárdenas’ office.

One of the main focuses of the president’s blueprint for the investment was bringing broadband internet to millions of Americans. Internet insecurity is a challenge underserved communities have been facing for the past few decades. According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 43 percent of adults with lower incomes do not have home broadband services and 41 percent don't have a desktop or laptop computer, meaning the only way they can reach the internet at home is through their cellphones.

Rep. Cárdenas is hopeful that the passed legislation will push further change in the Valley regarding the internet and manufacturing.

“It is not about playing video games,” said the longtime congressman. “It is about doing homework. It is about small businesses having money to get tools in their toolbox. Now, these small businesses have the opportunity to sell around the world, communicating with people everywhere and allowing local jobs to make these products and send them out.”

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