We wanted to share parts of an email from Bailey Netsch, Managing Communications Director of the Missouri Democratic Party.
March 4th, 2022
It has been a good week to be a Democrat. Aren’t those nice? Since 2016, those days seem to be fewer and farther between with the misinformation and lies swirling in the American political system by the far-right and one particularly orange man.
The February job numbers came in hot, COVID-19 is in retreat and on Tuesday we watched President Biden’s first State of the Union address.
As staunch supporters, we already knew a lot of the policies Biden laid out in his nearly 50-minute speech (you can find policy details below, though!) For the Democratic base, the SOTU can serve as a powerful reminder of what we are working toward and hey, maybe celebrate a little bit for the good this administration has done since January 2021.
I’m not going to lie – my heart stopped when I heard a GOP member interrupt (while Biden was talking about his dead son…) because I feared it would be one of our Missouri GOP representatives or one of our Senators…
Phew, it wasn’t. Thanks, Majorie and Lauren?
The majority of Biden’s time in politics and government was spent during easier decades – when bipartisanship wasn’t always a poison pill. He is uniquely qualified to bring teamwork back to Washington D.C. In his SOTU, Biden announced his Unity Agenda, meant to truly heal the American people.
Now, let’s dig into some policy. Here are some quick facts:
• States, territories, Tribes and local governments will start to improve 65,000 miles of roads and 1,500 bridges with federal funding.
• The Federal Aviation Administration will be able to invest in over 600 airport infrastructure projects, including preserving 400 pavement projects on taxiways and runways.
• Communities will invest in an estimated 15,000 new buses, ferries and subway cars, improving commutes for working Americans, families, and students across the country and reducing greenhouse emissions.
• The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will advance over 500 projects across 52 states and territories to strengthen supply chains, improve waterways, and reduce flooding.
• The Environmental Protection Agency will work with state and local governments to fund more than 400 new water projects from replacing lead service lines to improving drinking water systems.
• States, Tribes, and other partners will reclaim over 15,000 acres of abandoned mine lands, as well as launch new reclamation efforts that will ultimately address tens of thousands of additional acres across the country.
• The Interior Department’s new Orphan Well Program will start work plugging, capping, and remediating over 8,000 abandoned oil & gas well sites in communities across the country.
• The Interior Department will reduce the risk of wildfires to communities by more than 30 percent – removing over 300,000 acres of burnable fuels in the places where communities and the natural environment meet.
• The Department of Energy will take steps to launch a first-of-its kind $140 million demonstration facility to extract and separate rare earth elements and other critical minerals from coal ash, mine tailings, acid drainage, and other legacy fossil fuel waste to sustainably produce materials key to next-generation clean energy technologies.
• The Department of Energy will make available nearly $3 billion to bolster domestic manufacturing of advanced batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage.
The infrastructure and economic policies are closely intertwined. The funding from the BIL will stimulate many construction jobs (among others) across the country. Therefore, all of the points above pretty much apply to this section, too. I am going to only include different ones in the list below:
• The Department of Commerce will issue final guidance and notices of funding opportunity for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program and the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, which together will distribute more than $43 billion in broadband funding. The Department of Agriculture will issue a new funding opportunity notice for the ReConnect program which will provide nearly $2 billion in funding for rural broadband deployment.
• The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will build on the more than 10 million lower-income households already receiving subsidized internet service through the Affordable Connectivity Program. The FCC will also adopt rules requiring broadband providers to display easy-to-understand labels to allow consumers to more effectively comparison shop for broadband services.
• The EPA announced $1 billion to initiate cleanup and clear the backlog of 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country, with work expected at more than 80 Superfund cleanup projects in the next year.
• The EPA announced $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, including $200 million in Fiscal Year 2022, to accelerate the progress of restoration of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites, securing clean water and a better environment for millions of Americans in the Great Lakes region.
War in Ukraine
Ugh. I am writing this section last because I just…really don’t want to! The war in Ukraine and Putin’s crap has both surprised and not surprised the entire world.
The Ukrainian people? They have awed us all.
President Biden started his SOTU with admiration and strong support for the Ukrainian people, President Zelenskyy, and their democracy. The United States has already sent one billion dollars in direct aid to Ukraine – regardless of what the far-right is spewing.
We’ve seen the videos of bombs in neighborhoods, Putin’s 40-mile long caravan and Zelenskyy in the streets of Kyiv.
But have you seen his speech directly to the Russian people? In Russian? Please watch it. The only word I can think of to describe it is stunning, which is odd, I know. But you’ll get it after.
Before I made the decision to leave the traditional journalism world and jump ship to politics and government, I was lucky enough to work with the US Department of State on multiple projects centered in Eastern Europe and the Balkan region. While all of the projects focused on post-Soviet topics, it was impossible to avoid the Russian topic and often the vitriol that came with it.
Earlier this week, our Missouri Capitol was lit up blue and yellow in support of Ukraine.
I know a lot of you are praying, thinking about, manifesting (whatever it is) for the Ukrainian people. If I may ask – can you add my dear friend Narmina to your prayer list? She was part of a State Dept. job I did in 2017 and was my project partner. She is from Kyiv and lives there with her husband, 10-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. We’ve spoken everyday for the past three weeks, her updating me on the conditions, politics, and most important, her safety. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from her since Tuesday and am beyond worried.
The State of the Union is strong. The Biden Administration is strong. We are strong. Let’s rebuild Missouri together.
For more information check out the Missouri Democratic Party at missouridemocrats.org.