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Congressman Kilmer: How US infrastructure could soon be upgraded

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Washington state Congressman Derek Kilmer says he feels a sense of urgency to address the nation’s suffering infrastructure. After observing the president’s 2019 State of the Union address, he now believes there could be motivation in DC to upgrade the United States.

“There are some issues you can see Democrats and Republicans come together on, for example, you’ve heard the president talk for years about our crumbling infrastructure,” Kilmer told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “I have yet to see a Democratic road or Republican bridge. We know we have transit systems in need of repair. We have a power grid waiting to enter the 21st Century.

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Kilmer represents Tacoma, Kitsap County, and the Olympic Peninsula. He notes that the American Society of Civil Engineers rates the nation’s infrastructure as a D+.

“I think there are parts of our state where the speed limit signs are only there for nostalgic purposes,” he said.

Kilmer

“I represent a district that is in the bottom 20 percent of the country when it comes to access to high-speed internet,” Kilmer said. “Whether we are talking about our electrical grid, access to internet, or roads and bridges, I think that is something you can see pass out of the House; hopefully find some common ground in the Senate, and hopefully get signed by this president.”

“Having said that, there are going to be issues that you will see Democrats stand their ground if the president moves forward with policies we’ve seen over the course of the first two years of this administration,” he later added.

Kilmer, the border wall, Trump’s policies

The president’s state of the union address was delivered a little more than a week before a deadline for yet another government shutdown. The president wants funding for a border wall – whether that is a concrete wall, metal slats, etc. Democrats have been vehemently opposed to providing that funding.

The standoff has resulted in the longest government shutdown in America’s history, only remedied by a temporary funding bill. Another shutdown could happen if the two sides cannot find a compromise.

“I think that you will see Democrats and Republicans agree on an appropriations bill,” Kilmer said. “The proposal that I have supported is a bi-partisan bill called the ‘USA Act’ which says ‘let’s do a mile-by-mile assessment of our southern border and determine the most cost-effective and smartest way to address that.”

Kilmer says that the president will face court challenges if he declares an emergency over the wall. In that case, he would order the Army Corps of Engineers to get the wall done.

“I met, last week, with the Army Corps, and there are significant needs in our region when it comes to the Army Corps,” Kilmer said. “I’ve been out in Westport and Ocean Shores where there are real concerns about coastal resiliency. You’ve seen the Puget Sound ecosystem restoration investments. Those are investments that go through the Army Corps of Engineers. There are projects related to the competitiveness of our ports; dredging projects and the like.”

“That’s not a zero sum game,” he said. “If the president chooses to raid money out of the funds of the Army Corps of Engineers, there are communities in our region that will suffer because of that.”

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