Vice President Kamala Harris talks to WBTV News about infrastructure bill during visit in Charlotte

The money will be spent on roads, bridges, buses, trains, rural high-speed internet and utility lines
Vice President Kamala Harris talks to WBTV about infrastructure bill during visit in Charlotte
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 8:37 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Vice President Kamala Harris visited Charlotte Thursday with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

They were here to highlight the passage of the long talked about $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

It was a bill that was passed with support from Republicans, including three of the four GOP Senators representing the Carolinas. Only Tim Scott in South Carolina voted no.

The money will be spent on roads, bridges, buses, trains, rural high-speed internet and utility lines.

Vice President Kamala Harris talks to WBTV's Jamie Boll during Charlotte visit
The last time Harris was in North Carolina was back in April to discuss the American Jobs Plan.

About a billion of that trillion will be coming to North Carolina.

It’s a big number but what does it mean?

Will you get to work faster? Will the water stay on?

Related: Roads, transit, internet: What’s in the infrastructure bill

WBTV’s Jamie Boll was the only local TV reporter to interview Vice President Harris, and ask her some of those questions.

Jamie Boll: “Madam Vice President, welcome back to Charlotte.

VP Harris: “Good to be back in Charlotte.”

Jamie Boll: “Does this bill, does this law, is it going to make my trip to work smoother and quicker?”

VP Harris: “Yes, it will. And then you are absolutely right. And that’s why I’m here in Charlotte. That’s why we’ve been working with mayors, with governors, with local elected officials, because this absolutely is about getting it right into the communities that need it.”

“So, in North Carolina, we are looking at almost a billion dollars that are going to go into public transit. So, we’re on this beautiful bus. Why is that going to matter for real people at a local level. To your point, people take the bus to school, they take it to work, they take it to church. If a bus breaks down, that means that you might be as much as an hour late for work that might dock your pay real consequences.”

Jamie Boll: “What about the highways themselves? You’re in North Carolina, home of NASCAR? We love our cars. Yeah, people still like to drive.”

VP Harris: “OK, so let’s talk about driving. So, we’re looking at putting billions of dollars into roads and bridges.”

“Why is that going to matter for a driver? Well, first of all, if you have to drive over potholes every day, if you have to drive over bridges that are falling apart, what does that mean? You’re going to get a flat tire. Well, insurance doesn’t cover the cost of replacing the tire, and the cheapest tire, you can get is about $100. That’s a lot of money that you’re asking folks to pay because we need to repair our roads and bridges. We are now because of our infrastructure deal and putting billions of dollars into upgrading the roads and bridges of America.”

Jamie Boll: “And you mentioned mass transit, obviously, as well. And you know, the long list here of needs in Charlotte is really fast-growing commuter, and I’m sure you’ve heard it today from the local leaders, are we going to be able to build some of these light rails faster? Are we going to be able to get commuter trains going quicker?”

VP Harris: “That’s why we’re here actually, right here at CATS, because if you look, we’re looking at electric buses, we’re looking at electric rail cars. And that requires some federal investment so that at a local level we can create the jobs that are about manufacturing the repair the folks who are going to be driving these buses and driving the rail systems. And we’re very excited about it.”

Jamie Boll: “No House Republicans from North Carolina voted for this bill, the infrastructure law that passed. They use reasons like there’s not enough on roads and bridges, it’s not paid for, etc. How do you react to them?”

VP Harris: “This is the bipartisan infrastructure law and Republicans supported it because we know that the way that Americans live, when they’re driving that car on that road or bridge, it’s falling apart, they could care less about who is their elected official, what party they’re registered to vote with. What they know, they want this stuff fixed and that’s how we’re going to approach this as we move forward.”

Jamie Boll: “The second bill, though, you’re still trying to get through, it doesn’t appear like you’ll get any Republican support for that. Is bipartisanship then just died and you moved on from that?”

VP Harris: “No, I mean, in fact, if you look at the Build Back Better Act that we are now in the process, we believe, of being able at some point soon to get past.”

“There are Republican mayors all over the country in different regions who have supported it because they know we’ve got to bring down the cost of childcare. Working Families should not have to pay more than 7% of their income and childcare.”

“We need to bring down the cost of eldercare. So many working people are taking care of their young kids and their senior relatives and it is just absolutely impossible to juggle it all because they can’t afford to do it. We’re going to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. How many people here in Charlotte, in North Carolina, have diabetes who can barely afford to pay for the insulin that keeps them alive? With Build Back Better Act, you don’t pay more than $35 a month for insulin. This is real stuff. And that diabetic could care less about somebody saying this is a Republican or a Democratic policy.”

“They need to be able to afford their insulin or they die.”

Jamie Boll: “You’re talking about prices? Let’s talk about that real quickly. If we can, I think to tell most people to see it that at the gas pump, they see that at the grocery store, they’re paying more for their groceries, they’re worried are the Christmas presents going to arrive on time. Will they? And will prices come down?”

VP Harris: “So you’re talking about supply chain issues, and they are real. We’ve been through almost two years of a pandemic where our economy shut down, where people were not able to work and manufacturing slowed down, if not in some sectors shut down.”

“And so, the supply chain was directly impacted. And as the economy is now building back up, which it is, we’ve got to deal with the short term impact of the two years of a pandemic.”

“That’s why the President, and we as an administration said, ‘Hey, let’s look at the ports issue. We got to open up those ports where all these goods are coming into the United States.’”

“They can’t just operate a five day week, eight hours a day, let’s open them up 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s what we did in places like California, places like Savannah, Georgia, so that we can start bringing more goods in so that Santa Claus can do what Santa Claus needs to get done. To make sure that all our kids get something on their wish list.”

Jamie Boll: “Just a real quick follow up if I could because some economists have said, because of demand surge there was too much stimulus put into the economy. Did you put too much in?”

VP Harris: “Listen, you want to talk about what we did with the American Rescue Plan. Let’s talk about the fact that folks had the ability because of the American Rescue Plan to not lose their home, to be able to pay their bills, to get through one of the most difficult times economically that our country has endured, and those families who benefited from it had a right to believe that we will be there to support them when the catastrophe was no fault of their own. The catastrophe being this pandemic.”

Jamie Boll: “Madam Vice President, thanks for the time.”

VP Harris: “It’s good to be with you. Thank you.

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