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DOT Sec. Pete Buttigieg Speaks With Facing South Florida Host Jim DeFede About Impact Relief Bill Will Have On Child Poverty

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The Biden administration is expected to announce on Wednesday a $3 to 4 billion infrastructure plan.

Video Transcript

- All new at 7:00, we're speaking to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The Biden administration is expected to announce tomorrow a $3 to $4 billion infrastructure plan.

- But Buttigieg started by speaking to CBS 4's Jim DeFede about the impact the recently passed COVID relief bill will have in fighting child poverty across the country, including here in Florida.

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, there are so many things, important things, that happened in the American Rescue Plan that we want to make sure we're talking to the American public about it. Of course, the basic idea was to get checks out to families and to get shots in arms to pick up on that vaccination schedule because we're in a race of the vaccines versus the variants of the virus.

But there's a lot of other things in there, too. And one of the ones I want to point to is the effect on child poverty. This bill stands to raise a quarter of a million Americans-- just in the state of Florida alone-- American children out of poverty and is going to benefit millions of families. So we want to make sure to thank Congress for supporting this. And recognize what the president's leadership is going to deliver in order to get us out of the woods on this crisis, even as we're also thinking about the long term and our next steps.

JIM DEFEDE: Well, you talk about thanking Congress for passing this bill. But it was congressional Democrats in both the House and Senate that did it. What does it say about the state of our country that not a single Republican voted for this plan that, as you say, would be so beneficial to children and across the board?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, it is frustrating that a vision that has the support of most Republicans and Democrats across the country couldn't get the support of Republicans here on Capitol Hill. Although I'm learning that can happen sometimes because of the way Washington works. I do believe that there are issues where we can come together across the aisle. And thankfully, the issues I work on-- transportation and infrastructure-- I think are probably the best example. I've been having conversations almost every day with Republicans as well as Democrats about what we want to see in the future of our transportation infrastructure. And there is no such thing as a Republican bridge or a Democratic pothole. So we're seeing a lot of appetite and energy that I believe could lead to a bipartisan future on these issues.

JIM DEFEDE: So the infrastructure bill that we may see come from the administration. First question is, do we have a timetable on when we might actually see the infrastructure bill put forward? And the $3 trillion price tag over 10 years would be roughly $300 million a year. The reporting that I've seen says that it's in that ballpark. Is that accurate?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: So the president will be speaking more to the details of this next Wednesday and I'm looking forward to that announcement. And of course, this is a process that doesn't happen from the administration alone. There's a lot of back and forth with Congress. But as those details emerge, what I can tell you is that we're going to be thinking big because the needs are big. The challenges are big. The problems are big. We failed to invest for way too long as a country. It's catching up to us. Now is our chance to do something about it.

JIM DEFEDE: How do you talk about the needs of roads and bridges which are in decay, at the same time talk about the effects of climate change and what we need to do, particularly in a state like here in Florida?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well as you know, Florida has a lot on the line in this race against climate change. And to me, a roads and bridges project, which is also a jobs project, is inevitably a climate issue too. We've got decisions to make about how our roads and bridges and other infrastructure are built. We can either do it in a way that makes the climate worse, or we can do it in a way that makes the climate better. Why wouldn't we do it in a way that makes the climate better?

JIM DEFEDE: Anything in particular that you can foreshadow as it relates to what we might see here in Florida, when it comes to the infrastructure bill?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well I'll tell you this. Florida is a state with obviously a lot of very important roads and bridges. And also ports and areas that don't get talked about as much, like space industry, right? And what it means to the space coast to think about that. So all of these things are tied together. And it's safe to say that Floridians are going to see a lot of benefit and have a lot on the line in terms of the infrastructure vision that's going to roll out.

- All right. Don't forget to join Jim every Sunday for Facing South Florida. You can see it Sunday mornings at 11:30 AM right here on CBS 4.