Over $1 billion would go toward replacing lead service lines and big investments in EV infrastructure. There will be more if the U.S. Senate passes the Build Back Better Act, which was passed in the U.S. House earlier this month.

Billions of dollars are headed to Michigan following the passage and signing of President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. There’s language in the law to spur quick spending.  

U.S. Rep Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), who was in Hamtramck Monday touting the recent infrastructure legislation, says with this latest influx of cash, Michigan will have to use it or lose it.  

Lawrence says the recent bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden will help Hamtramck — and other cities like it in Michigan — replace lead service lines. Recent testing has shown some residences in Hamtramck have elevated levels of lead.  

Russ McNamara
Russ McNamara

Over $1 billion would go toward replacing lead service lines in Michigan. The state will also see big investments in electric vehicle infrastructure.  

Now to use all that money there needs to be skilled workers. Some segments of the economy are increasing wages to stay competitive and attract new employees.    

Lawrence says kids graduating from high school need to keep skilled trades in mind as a way to make money.  

“We want the unions to step up and produce a larger volume of apprentice,” she says, “and we also know that we need to be a partner with them with the community colleges.” 

The new infrastructure bill isn’t the first to dish out billions to Michigan. However, previous legislation signed by both Biden and former President Trump have met roadblocks at the state level.  

State Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) says those in charge of the Michigan Legislature have been slow to act.  

“We are sitting on $570 million in money that can be paid to renters and tenants for rent relief that my Republican colleagues refuse to allocate,” Aiyash says.  

Build Back Better Facing Opposition 

With the comprehensive bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden, another bill awaits passage in the Senate. The U.S. House passed the comprehensive Build Back Better bill to address climate change and economic inequity earlier in the month.  

The social equity and climate bill passed the U.S. House along earlier in the month. It would tax the wealthy and corporations to pay for universal free preschool, price caps on some prescription drugs, investment in green energy and paid family leave. 

 “In Michigan we need $1.65 billion to eliminate the service lines that have been identified and we get closer to that with Build Back Better.”  –Rep. Rashida Tlaib 

Lawrence says the bill will get women back into the workforce.  

 “Child care in America is crippling our economy,” Lawrence says. “We have women who stay at home and not work because the cost of child care is greater than any salary they were bringing home.”  

 U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) says there’s also some money for a common problem in Michigan — replacing antiquated lead service lines.  

 “In Michigan we need $1.65 billion to eliminate the service lines that have been identified and we get closer to that with Build Back Better,”  Tlaib says.

Unlike the infrastructure bill signed by President Biden earlier this month, Build Back Better does not have bipartisan support. The social equity and climate change-fighting bill is facing unanimous opposition from GOP lawmakers and tepid support – at best – from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.  

Citing the overall $2 trillion price tag and tax increases for the wealthy, Republicans have uniformly balked at the legislation.  

 The Congressional Budget Office said the bill would add $160 billion to the deficit over the next decade but would actually pay for itself with stricter IRS enforcement of laws affecting the richest Americans and corporations.  

 Tlaib says it’s about time “the ultra-rich pay their fair share.”   

“We’ve been playing the toll of corporate greed for so long,” she says. “I don’t care if it’s our pollution. I don’t care if it’s our rundown schools, folks have profited off of our human suffering. I’m done for us as a community as taxpayers subsidizing for that. They need to pay their fair share. They need to pay into systems that helps every single American thrive.”  

Tlaib urged moderate Sinema and Manchin to sign onto the bill. The legislation can pass if they sign on. Tlaib is pessimistic about the bill’s passage.  

Aiyash urged Michigan’s U.S. Senators to push their colleagues for its passage.   

“I’m excited that Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow are on board. But we need them to push those final two votes, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, to finally finish the deal so that we can start showing Americans that the Biden administration is delivering on the promise to fight for bold climate action, for climate justice, for corporate accountability.”  

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Author

  • Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.