Over 100 constituents signed up to attend a virtual town hall with Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (D-2nd dist.) and local environmental groups to answer questions and concerns about President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
The town hall was hosted by Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, a statewide environmental advocacy organization. Attendees were able to submit questions or concerns to the congressman.
Katie Blume, political director of Conservation Voters of PA, moderated the event, asking questions of the congressman proposed by the organizations and constituents.
Sponsors for the event included Conservation Voters of PA, PennFuture, Sustainable Business Network, Audubon Mid-Atlantic, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, Clean Water Action and PennEnvironment.
Boyle, who grew up in Philadelphia and serves on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, stressed the importance of this legislation.
“In America, our infrastructure is crumbling, and so is our middle class,” Boyle said in an email. “We are long overdue for a large-scale package that invests in our physical infrastructure, but also the American people.”
The American Jobs Plan stresses a need to fix crumbling infrastructure across the county, using clean energy to achieve this. It also aims to provide clean drinking water by removing lead from pipes. The president said in a press release that this work would mean an increase in jobs by hundreds of thousands of people.
“There is no way to do an infrastructure bill, without simultaneously talking about and addressing our environmental and energy needs,” Boyle said.
The legislation would impact many facets of Boyle’s district, from increasing work on roads and increasing rail lines through SEPTA and Amtrak, leading to jobs.
“The American Jobs Plan will create millions of strong union jobs by fixing our nation’s roads, rail and bridges, while also improving public transit, strengthening access to broadband, ensuring safe drinking water, and building safer schools,’’ Boyle said in an email.
Funding from the American Jobs Plan would support the design and construction of the Frankford Creek Greenway. When it’s finished it will connect Frankford with parks throughout the Greenway along the Delaware River.
“One of the frustrations I had is that there aren’t enough points for public access to the Delaware River,” Boyle said. “We’re further along now than where we were, say 10 years ago, but we still need to do a better job on the Greenway. So I’m glad that that project is in the bill.”
The rehabilitation of schools in Philadelphia is a vital part of this package for Boyle.
“Imagine if the city of Philadelphia attempted on its own to fund the rehabbing and greater energy efficiency of all of their older buildings, they don’t have the capacity to do that,” Boyle said. “The federal government can and can do that on a mass scale.”
It seems like it could go one of two ways: it may need to be divided into two bills, one for physical infrastructure at approximately $1.2 trillion as far as getting it passed. The second bill addresses what Boyle calls human infrastructure that will address paid family leave and childcare. But things are very likely to change and it could end up being one whole bill.
How can citizens help get this passed?
“Call your representatives,” Boyle said. “Show up at their offices if you feel comfortable with that.” ••