OP-ED: A President for Every American
By Congressman James E. Clyburn
In his January 20, 2021, inaugural address, President Joe Biden pledged an administration that looks like America and to “fight as hard for those who did not support [him] as for those who did.” It is clear and convincing that President Biden has kept those promises.
I often say the 117th Congress was the most productive since the 89th and 90th Congresses, which enacted President Lyndon B. Johnson’s vision of a “Great Society” and led to his appointment of the first Black American, Thurgood Marshall, to the United States Supreme Court.
In addition to keeping his promise to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, President Biden has signed into law bold and history-making legislation, to include the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the CHIPS and Science Act (C&SA), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), and the Honoring Our PACT Act.
The ARP pulled us out of the trenches of the COVID-19 pandemic by investing $350 billion to help state, local, and tribal governments fight the pandemic and build a strong and equitable recovery. We expanded access to health insurance, reopened schools and businesses safely, and expanded the Child Tax Credit, which cut child poverty nearly in half.
The IIJA ushered in over $220 billion in funding and 32,000 specific projects or awards, reaching over 4,500 communities across all 50 states, D.C., and territories in 18 months. The C&SA is strengthening our supply chains and has put us on the fast track to reclaiming our place as a leader in manufacturing on the world stage.
The IRA capped the cost of insulin for Medicare Part D recipients at $35 a month, includes the largest U.S. investment in the fight against the climate crisis ever, and will cut the deficit by an estimated $300 billion.
The BSCA has helped reform policing by investing in community-based violence prevention programs, children and family mental health services, protections for victims of domestic abuse, and support for state red flag laws.
The PACT Act provided our toxic-exposed Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with access to lifesaving benefits and care, and rectified some long-standing inequities suffered by our Vietnam veterans.
One would think my Republican colleagues would be celebrating these historic investments. After all, a recent Financial Times report revealed that more than 75% of these capital investments of at least $100 million have gone to Republican-held Congressional districts. But not a single Republican voted for the ARP or the IRA. Only a handful of Republicans supported the IIJA, only 34 House Republicans joined the Democrats to pass the PACT Act, and only 24 stood alongside us for the C&SA.
My home state of South Carolina serves as a perfect example. I was the lone House member to vote for all six bills. One Republican, Nancy Mace, voted for the PACT Act, and one Republican, Tom Rice, voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Still, that same Financial Times report found that South Carolina is the leading beneficiary of new manufacturing projects that have occurred because of the Biden-Harris Administration’s transformational investments.
Specifically, South Carolina is experiencing a boom because of new manufacturing incentives created by the IRA and the CHIPS and Science Act. We just welcomed Volkswagen’s Scout Motors expansion, an over $2 billion investment that will yield over 4,000 jobs in Blythewood, South Carolina. Last December, Redwood Materials announced a $3.5 billion investment to construct a new electric battery facility in Berkeley County, the largest single economic development in South Carolina’s history.
SEM Wafertech, a new solar manufacturer, just came to Sumter; Proterra, an electric battery manufacturer, is expanding in Greer; and Kontrolmatik, another battery manufacturer is coming to Colleton County. And of course, new incentives for electric vehicles and semiconductor production have made South Carolina well positioned to continue expansions at BMW, Volvo, and SKF.
We are also making foundational investments in our crumbling infrastructure. Earlier this month, we announced over $1.3 billion in ARP funding to modernize and upgrade water infrastructure across over 200 South Carolina communities. And, thanks to the ARP and the IIJA, South Carolina finally has the funding it needs to bring high-speed internet service to every unserved household by the end of 2026.
Our broadband investments not only focus on high-speed access, but also on affordability and adoption. The IIJA created the Affordable Connectivity Program to provide a $30 monthly discount on internet service to all qualifying households. Over 336,000 South Carolinians currently participate in the program.
Our efforts on broadband are underway and yielding tangible results. A recent report listed South Carolina as the 6th best state for internet coverage and price—a 25-spot increase from 2020. This will connect our rural communities to health care and job opportunities, our children to education, and every South Carolinian to opportunity.
We are on the precipice of a future in which this country will continue serving as a beacon of opportunity and advancement for all. President Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda is inspiring bold changes, and whether you supported him or not, he is making this country’s greatness accessible and affordable for all.