WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) voted to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. Cooper also voted to advance the President’s Build Back Better Framework, which addresses urgent needs, such as healthcare, childcare, housing, climate change, immigration and more.
“The bipartisan infrastructure bill will create millions of jobs and make long-overdue investments in Tennessee’s infrastructure. It will give us better roads and bridges, faster internet, and cleaner drinking water,” Rep. Jim Cooper said. “I was also glad to support advancing President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, which will lower healthcare and childcare costs and address the climate crisis. Both bills are a win for all Tennesseans.” The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is the largest investment in America’s roads and bridges, transit, rail, clean drinking water and wastewater systems, and high-speed broadband networks in history. Over the next five years, Tennessee will receive billions of dollars to improve its infrastructure systems, including:
- $5.8 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs, an increase of approximately $1.35 billion in federal-aid highway funding to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
- $697 million to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure that everyone has clean, safe drinking water.
- $630 million to improve public transportation options across Tennessee.
- $302 million for bridge replacement.
- $300 million for infrastructure development for airports.
- $100 million, at least, to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at 402,000 Tennesseans who currently lack it.
- $88 million to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network in Tennessee.
- $21 million to protect against cyberattacks.
- $17 million to protect against wildfires.
The House also voted to advance debate of Build Back Better Framework, and House passage of the bill is expected before the Thanksgiving holiday. Negotiations continue on the final details of the package. Cooper also applauded the inclusion of provisions of his Don’t BLock Our Communities (D-BLOC) Act in the IIJA. “I’m glad my bill to reduce blocked railroad intersections is included,” Rep. Jim Cooper said. “This is the biggest victory against misbehaving railroads in a long time.”
After receiving countless complaints from Nashvillians who reported that freight trains were parking on busy roads, Cooper introduced the D-BLOC Act to stop freight trains from blocking crossings for unreasonable amounts of time. The IIJA includes portions of Cooper’s proposal, including a new blocked crossing portal to store and provide information regarding blocked rail crossings.
The Federal Railroad Administration will use this information to identify frequently blocked crossings and conduct outreach to communities and this information will be made public. Instead of fines on freight rail companies, as originally proposed by Cooper, the negotiated language establishes a grant program for state and local governments and metro planning organizations to eliminate blocked crossings by creating rail or pathway-rail grade crossing improvement projects.