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Commentary: Federal Build Back Better legislation would have local benefits

Slater Avenue bridge, looking east towards Brookhurst.
Construction of the Slater Avenue bridge over the 405 Freeway. Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan writes that the Build Back Better act before Congress would benefit Orange County in multiple ways including transportation infrastructure.
(Raul Roa)

We are at a critical junction in American politics. The federal bipartisan Build Back Better Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are more than budget line items to support our economy, they are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to impact the lives of Americans and improve the physical and human infrastructure of our cities. I, along with my Orange County delegation of mayors, urge all our Congressional representatives to complete their work and immediately pass these two landmark pieces of legislation that will help every city in Orange County.

I am joined in this position by fellow mayors across Orange County, including Vincent Sarmiento of Santa Ana, Connor Traut of Buena Park, Shari Horne of Laguna Woods, Bob Whalen of Laguna Beach, Kim Carr of Huntington Beach, Tiffany Ackley of Aliso Viejo, John Stephens of Costa Mesa and Letitia Clark of Tustin.

If we are truly to build back better, then we need these funds today. Our roads, health and childcare situations cannot improve without the support of the federal government. Today, we stand united to send a clear message to Washington — pass these bills without further delay. The local benefits of this legislation include:

  • Funding for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, including bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation;
  • Programs related to transportation safety, reducing crashes and fatalities, especially of cyclists and pedestrians; modernization of public transit and expansion to meet rider demand;
  • Plans to initiate climate and clean energy investments, cut more greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; provide tax credits to Americans buying new electric vehicles and tax incentives to encourage the installation of solar panels; rebuild the electric grid and expand renewable energy; upgrade water infrastructure, including protection from droughts and cyberattacks;
  • Provisions to build or improve more affordable housing units and help with rental and down payment assistance;
  • Expanded healthcare coverage, lower premiums, the inclusion of hearing services with Medicare;
  • Universal preschool, subsidized childcare, and a one-year extension of the current expanded Child Tax Credit;
  • Improved broadband infrastructure that will close the digital divide and provide quality service to all.

These are just some of the critical funding opportunities proposed by President Biden that will directly benefit Orange County. We look forward to the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate sending these bills to the president’s desk and bringing home these much-needed funds. Our residents and businesses can wait no longer, and we as leaders are ready to deliver, but Congress must act today.

Farrah N. Khan is the mayor of Irvine.

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