August 10, 2021

Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill With Historic Brown Provisions to Invest in Ohio Communities & Create Good-Paying American Jobs

Brown Secures Critical Funding for Local Water & Sewer Systems, Rural Broadband, Public Transit Systems, & More

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, with several key provisions he secured for Ohio communities. As the Chairman of a key committee on infrastructure legislation, Brown fought for Ohio and delivered, with big investments now on the way to the state for good-paying jobs to build and upgrade critical infrastructure like bridges, broadband, waterways, and public transit—all without raising taxes on working families.

“I hear from mayors and community leaders across Ohio about the infrastructure projects they need to create jobs and economic growth all over our state. Today, we’re showing that we can work together to provide real investments to upgrade outdated bridges, roads, transit, and water and sewer systems, to build new broadband networks, and more. We’re delivering historic wins for Ohio that will create good-paying American jobs that cannot be shipped overseas, and that will help Ohio communities of all sizes, all over the state, thrive and grow,” said Brown.

Specifically, the bill includes:

Brown’s Bridge Investment Act, which will provide $12.5 billion in funding to repair and replace nationally and regionally significant bridges, like the Brent Spence Bridge in Ohio—part of theInfrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s historic investment.  The package also provides Ohio $9.8 billion of formula funding to repair, replace, and upgrade roads and bridges throughout the state.

  • Brown’s legislation will establish a competitive grant program to assist with the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog. 
  • Brown has been pushing for this legislation since 2018
  • This will provide the funding necessary to replace bridges like the Brent Spence, which carries 3 percent of the nation's GDP every day.
  • The Brent Spence will immediately be eligible for grant assistance, and Brown has vowed to ensure this bridge is a top priority in this new program. Brown’s bridge program will provide a grant agreement to fund half of the Brent Spence replacement, with new formula funding to Ohio and Kentucky providing additional support to the project. 
  • Brown’s legislation and the additional formula in the bipartisan bill will accelerate aid to Ohio’s 3,200 bridges that need repairs. The 2020 American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure found there are at least 46,154 bridges in the U.S. that are ‘structurally deficient’ and 231,000 still need repair and preservation work.

Brown’s Build America Buy America Act will apply strong Buy America rules to all taxpayer-funded infrastructure and public works projects:

  • While these promises were not fulfilled during the Trump presidency, Brown continued fighting for American workers, and reintroduced the bill again earlier this year. 
  • Brown and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) successfully secured the same Buy America provisions in the recently passed U.S. Competition and Innovation Act. 
  • President Biden’s recent executive action has strengthened Buy America rules, but until Brown’s legislation is enacted, Buy America will not be fully implemented with respect to all federal programs that provide grants for the construction of infrastructure. This means American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products were required for some infrastructure projects, but not all. When Chinese- or Russian- made steel and other products are used instead of American products, it steals jobs from U.S. workers.
  • Brown’s legislation will implement Buy America rules across the board – ensuring that American taxpayer dollars are used to purchase American-made products for all federally funded infrastructure projects – closing loopholes and securing major investment in American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products.

$89.9 billion in funding to provide a record investment in public transit, including $1.286 billion for Ohio transit agencies:

  • As Chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over public transportation, Brown worked with Senators on both sides of the aisle to secure the largest-ever federal investment in public transit—$89.9 billion over five years. The agreement will provide Ohio transit agencies $1.286 billion of funding over the next five years.
  • Ohio agencies will be able to apply for additional funding to replace outdated diesel buses with new zero-emission buses. $5.25 billion will be provided for zero and low-emission buses in the package, which Brown has championed.
  • Brown’s reauthorization provisions from the Banking & Housing Committee include $1.5 billion for a rail car replacement program to help the Great Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and other transit agencies receive funds to replace their aging railcar fleets.
  • Brown’s legislation provides more than $13 million for The Ohio State University (OSU) and the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in East Liberty to conduct testing and research on zero-emission bus components. OSU and TRC’s joint program is one of two federally designated national testing centers for zero-emission bus components, which Brown has championed
  • The bipartisan agreement includes $1.75 billion for a new federal grant program to support legacy transit and commuter rail authorities to upgrade existing stations to meet or exceed accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Brown cosponsored the proposal with Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

$65 billion in funding to help communities improve access to high-speed broadband:

  • Brown recognizes how important high-speed broadband is for Ohioans and has long fought to increase access. Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet more than 30 million Americans are estimated to live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country. 
  • The bipartisan bill’s $65 billion investment ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago.
  • Additionally, the bill will help lower prices for internet service by requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and helping families comparison shop, and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service.
  • It will also help close the digital divide by passing the Digital Equity Act, ending digital redlining, creating a permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet, and establishing a new program to help low-income households obtain the devices required to access the internet. 

$55.4 billion in funding to help communities improve local water and sewer systems:

  • Earlier this year, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to strengthen drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, foster economic growth, enhance the health and well-being of families across the nation, and address environmental justice. The bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA) contained key wins for Ohio’s water infrastructure that Brown helped secure. Throughout infrastructure negotiations, Brown fought to include these key provisions as part of the bipartisan bill. These provisions will: 
  • Provide $15 billion to replace lead pipes in the nation’s drinking water system;
  • Authorize an additional $100 million annually through fiscal year 2026 for lead pipe replacement, with priority for low income communities, households, and landlords that provide housing to low income renters;
  • Provide $1 billion in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which provides resources to communities to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic wellbeing of the Great Lakes basin, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination;
  • Provide $10 billion to help communities address emerging contaminants like PFAS and PFOA;
  • Provide a total of $23.4 billion, split evenly between both the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds. This investment over the next five years will provide critical funding to states to upgrade aging infrastructure, including lead pipes, and address water quality to provide safe drinking water and reduce pollution in our lakes and rivers; 
  • Authorize more than $1 billion in a Combined Sewage Overflow grant program over the next five years to help communities deal with this challenge;
  • Authorize $350 million annually in new grant programs to help low-income households connect to existing drinking water or wastewater treatment systems;
  • Authorize $250 million for water infrastructure resiliency and sustainability grant programs, which award grants to communities to increase the resiliency or adaptability of water systems to natural hazards, including extreme weather events due to climate change. This new program will help communities on Lake Erie dealing with record high water levels; and
  • Create a new pilot grant program to assist qualifying households with maintaining access to affordable drinking water and wastewater treatment. As the pandemic has shown more than ever, access to clean water is essential. 

$7.5 billion to support and bolster electric vehicle (EV) and alternative charging infrastructure, which will create good-paying jobs:

  • This includes $5 billion dedicated to EV charging, which is essential for the successful deployment of EVs across the United States.
  • This funding will create over 9,000 annual jobs over the next five years and will meet the goal of deploying 500,000 alternative vehicle charging stations by 2030.