U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III joined Boston Herald Radio this week, where the Brookline Democrat shared his views on infrastructure and “that meeting” in the White House .
Q: Talk to me about this sort of clash between (Nancy) Pelosi and (Chuck) Schumer and the president yesterday when it comes to infrastructure week. Can I get your thoughts on how that played out?
A: Yes, the infamous infrastructure meeting. How did it play out? Look, it didn’t. Chairman (Richard) Neal has been involved in the discussions around an infrastructure bill now for months. We had a delegation meeting last week with all of the members of the House delegation from Massachusetts, with Sens. (Ed) Markey and (Elizabeth) Warren, with Gov. (Charlie) Baker and (Mayor) Marty Walsh — they were both down in D.C. to talk infrastructure — and Chairman Neal had said at that point he thought the odds of going forward with this reasonable; that we were trying to make sure that the priorities of Massachusetts would be represented in the legislation and are very well positioned to make sure that we deliver for Massachusetts should an infrastructure bill go forward; and that they were looking forward to sitting down with the White House yesterday — at that point it was a week out — to try to see how we could make this happen.
And Chairman Neal had given a considerable amount of thought to ways to find revenue streams and try to make this thing work, and they then went over there with an idea of trying to find out how to make investments in our country that has over a $4 trillion infrastructure debt and that can put a lot of people to work and make our country far safer, more secure. And walked into a temper tantrum from the president of the United States that lasted for three minutes and they ran out the door and he ran into the Rose Garden in front of a podium with a preprinted sign to try to rebut, to try to make a statement about the fact (about) some misleading highlights of a Mueller report.
And I don’t quite know exactly what to think from some of it because the idea that this was an impromptu thing belies the fact that there’s a prefabricated sign in front of a podium, but the fact that you have a president of the United States that can get that upset about the speaker of the House just relaying facts is kind of crazy.
Q: Do you off the top of your head, Congressman, have any infrastructure projects here in Massachusetts that would be impacted or would have gotten some help here?
A: Oh, so there’s a long list of them. And the way that that works sometimes is there’s some federal-specific projects there, there’s other ones that get kind of money that gets delegated to the states and then off of a state prioritization, so part of that would be working with our state counterparts, which again is why Gov. Baker was down here with his transportation secretary, Secretary (Stephanie) Pollack, to try to understand exactly what that could look like and to start talking about various priorities. But people think transportation infrastructure, you think roads and bridges, which certainly is that. There’s also things like investment, what could be part of that package is the investment tax credit to try to continue to incentivize the growth and development of the offshore winds industry, offshore Massachusetts and southeastern New England, that could potentially revolutionize not just our own energy portfolio here in New England and provide much needed supply to the region but also create an entire industry of jobs that at this point don’t even exist.
There’s rehabilitation of ports, we’ve done a great job just outside my district in New Bedford rehabilitating and making huge investments in New Bedford, getting New Bedford ready for that opportunity, but there should be far more development necessary than New Bedford alone is going to be able to supply, so there’s an awful lot we could do there, one.
Two, this touches issues like wastewater, stormwater runoff and combined sewage overflow, which has been a massive issue for communities like Fall River and Taunton and across — Congresswoman (Lori) Trahan has been great at highlighting issues around the sewage runoff into the Merrimack River — that can be a part of it and that’s critically important. … So there’s a whole variety of ways in which this infrastructure project could be hugely important to communities across Massachusetts. … And I’m really hoping that the president is willing to do it because again there is an awful lot of folks in a bipartisan way that want to.