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Bipartisan lawmakers introduce infrastructure bill for poor communities

Bipartisan lawmakers introduce infrastructure bill for poor communities
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House have introduced a bill aimed at funding new infrastructure projects in the nation’s poorest communities.

The Generating American Income and Infrastructure Act (GAIIN Act) would instruct the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell off distressed assets, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to infrastructure projects in poor communities and 50 percent going to paying down the national debt.

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The bill has brought together a diverse coalition of lawmakers, including Rep. Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyThe Memo: Rust Belt race hinges on Trump How the Trump tax law passed: The final stretch How the Trump tax law passed: Breaking the gridlock  MORE (R-Penn.), a member of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. William Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayElection Countdown: Takeaways from too-close-to-call Ohio special election | Trump endorsements cement power but come with risks | GOP leader's race now rated as 'toss-up' | Record numbers of women nominated | Latino candidates get prominent role in 2020 Five takeaways from Ohio's too-close-to-call special election Trump, 'blue wave' tested in Ohio: live results MORE Jr. (D-Mo.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddCook Political Report moves 5 GOP-held seats towards Dems Trump calls North Carolina redistricting ruling ‘unfair’ The Hill's Morning Report: Trump shifts campaign focus from Senate to House MORE (R-N.C.), who is with the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

“This innovative, bipartisan bill offers a creative way to help our poorest neighborhoods gain employment and critical investments in long-delayed infrastructure projects,” Clay said. “It is also fiscally responsible by taking distressed USDA assets and putting them to work to close the deep disparities that have deprived many urban areas of the vital infrastructure dollars needed to attract new jobs, new businesses and future growth.”

The lawmakers believe the infrastructure projects, which would be centered in African American, Hispanic and rural white communities, will appeal to Democratic members in the House.

And they say that the bill addresses a chief concern of conservatives who are skeptical of infrastructure spending by paying down the debt and not raising the gas tax.

Lawmakers worked on the text of the bill with the lobbying group United by Interest, the only bipartisan majority-minority owned lobbying group in Washington, D.C.

“Even in this time of historically strong economic growth, some of our country’s poorest communities are still waiting for significant infrastructure improvements,” said Kelly. “This unique, bipartisan piece of legislation will directly benefit them and boost their economies without raising taxes or adding to the deficit. In fact, it will help bring our nation’s record-high debt back down. It’s win-win-win. With this bill, our communities will be overlooked no more.”

The lawmakers estimate that federal agencies currently hold more than $2 trillion in distressed assets that they say are best sold before interest rates rise further. The GAIIN Act would be a pilot program specific to the Department of Agriculture that could be expanded to other agencies, if successful.

“We need infrastructure investment in our state,” said Budd. “This bill gets us there with bipartisan support.”