The Ripon Advance

Blackburn introduces bill to improve infrastructure in rural areas

By Ripon Advance News Service

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) recently introduced legislation to remove burdensome government regulations that will allow for easier repairs of America’s rural roads and bridges.

The Paving the Way for Rural Communities Act of 2021, S. 820, introduced on March 18, would remove certain requirements that adversely target rural communities and other areas not in metropolitan statistical regions.

Federal laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Endangered Species Act, add tremendous cost and complexity to communities trying to work with federal agencies on highway construction or economic development projects, Sen. Blackburn’s office said. As a result of those laws, infrastructure investments in rural areas are at times hindered, which gives a disproportionate advantage to urban counties.

Additionally, S. 820 offers a better path to infrastructure improvement than President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which will not only implement the largest tax hike in 30 years, but also add $2.3 trillion to the nation’s deficit, Sen. Blackburn said in an April 2 statement.

“Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan will increase government control, tax hardworking Americans, and cause our federal deficit to skyrocket,” Sen. Blackburn said. “While America’s roads and bridges need repair, especially in rural areas, there are countless ways to fix this without harming working families. This bill is a tax-free alternative that will strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and remove regulations that prevent rural counties from fixing their roads.”

Less than 6 percent of President Biden’s infrastructure funding would be used to build roads and bridges and will push American workers to join “Democrat-backed” unions, Sen. Blackburn said following the plan’s introduction.

“Roads need repair, and commuters are begging for highways to be expanded. Our country needs a bipartisan and targeted approach to improving infrastructure,” Sen. Blackburn said.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN) co-sponsored the bill.