DeFazio: infrastructure jobs, buy American key to recovery

When the United States claws its way out of the economic collapse associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, “it will look much more like the Great Depression than the Great Recession,” Congressman Peter DeFazio said Monday afternoon during a virtual town hall streamed online from his Springfield office.

“We will need jobs and infrastructure improvements that create millions of jobs in construction,” DeFazio said. “But there will also be jobs created in design, engineering and manufacturing.”

And jobs can be multiplied if the United States imposes a “Buy America” mentality by no longer buying equipment from countries like China.

We should start producing our own medications and personal protective equipment, DeFazio said.

“If we move our national transportation system away from fossil fuels to electrification, that will create millions of jobs and reduce our fossil fuels emissions,” DeFazio added.

DeFazio said he has always opposed free trade deals, because they ultimately lead to fewer jobs for American citizens. He opposed Bill Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement, George Bush’s Central America Free Trade Agreement and Barack Obama’s TransPacific Partnership.

DeFazio said an influx of money into the U.S. Postal Service is an important part of a national recovery.

He said that is true especially now, when prescriptions for veterans and seniors are delivered by the Postal Service.

Long term, he hopes to infuse $12 billion into the system to purchase a new fleet of electric postal delivery vehicles. He said the current fleet is old and expensive to maintain.

DeFazio said President Trump has not supported ways to shore up the Postal Service because he is against a national vote-by-mail system, which DeFazio strongly supports.

DeFazio said Democrats hope to pass a $2.3 trillion federal CARES program extension that will provide another $1,200 per adult, plus money for dependent children.

“A critical element is getting help to local governments, whose revenues have tanked,” DeFazio said. “They have to be able to support their police, fire, ambulance and community health programs.”

The plan would also extend the ban on home evictions, provide $100 billion to aid hospitals and health care operations and $75 billion for COVID-19 contact tracing.

DeFazio said he was pleased the Water Resources Bill recently received approval. It will provide funds for badly needed projects nationwide such as harbor maintenance and rebuilding jetties.

DeFazio accepted calls on a wide variety of topics by telephone and online.

In closing, DeFazio said that although it might appear we are in a “pretty dysfunctional place, this is America and we always have hope. We can and will do better.”

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