Congressional Roundup: VA COVID funds, bridge repair, rural broadband

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It’s May 20, 2021. Here’s a look at some recent updates from New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation.

Pappas takes to the floor regarding VA COVID-19 emergency funds

On Monday, U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH) (see above) spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss the VA Transparency and Trust Act of 2021.

Pappas, who serves as the Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is an original cosponsor of this legislation which will require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to report to Congress on emergency funding given to the Department to respond to COVID-19.

His floor speech can be seen here.

The bill passed the House later that night by a vote of 411-4.

Shaheen reintroduces bill to fund bridge repair

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced legislation to address the nation’s crumbling bridge infrastructure. The Strengthen and Fortify Existing (SAFE) Bridges Act would authorize $2.75 billion annually to create a program dedicated to repairing and replacing bridges in poor condition. In New Hampshire, 8.6 percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient. 

In its 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation’s bridge network a barely passing grade of C. According to ASCE, 42% of all bridges are at least 50 years old, and 46,154, or 7.5% of our nation’s bridges are considered structurally deficient. Each day there are 178 million vehicle trips across these aging structures, many of which are approaching or past their design lifespan.  

Senator Shaheen’s legislation is cosponsored by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).  

Full text of the bill is available here 

Hassan and Capito introuce bill to spur rural broadband

U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) reintroduced legislation to help states, cities, and towns spur investment in rural broadband projects. Hassan says this bill complements ongoing efforts in New Hampshire by providing state and local governments with innovative financing options for broadband projects, giving states and localities access to additional tools to invest in rural broadband.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made even more clear that Granite State families and small businesses need fast and reliable internet access to succeed in today’s economy,” said Hassan. “This bipartisan bill would provide rural communities in New Hampshire with new financing options to expand their broadband infrastructure so that every household can get connected.”

More information on the bill can be found here.

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nathan-graziano

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Fly Like The Seagull was published by Luchador Press in 2020. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com