The Senate passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 on Thursday. The bipartisan passed Senate 89-2.
The two “no” votes were Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee(R-Utah).
“Access to clean water is a human right and every American deserves access to clean water no matter the color of their skin or size of their income,” Senator Tammy Duckworth, who wrote the bill, said.
The legislation will pump $35 billion into water infrastructure programs, establish an operational sustainability program for smaller water systems, and authorize $50 million annually between 2022-2026. 50% of the funding will go toward a separate grant program for large and midsize drinking water systems that nourish between 10,000 and 100,000 people.
Funding for grant programs focused on removing lead from drinking water will increase from $60 million to $100 million. President Joe Biden has vowed to replace all lead pipes in the United States. Lead in drinking water causes neurological and brain damage in children.
Tom Carper, who co-sponsored the bill, believes that bipartisan decision-making is the key to lasting solutions.
“We know that access to safe, reliable and healthful water isn’t a blue state or a red state issue. …I oftentimes say that bipartisan solutions are lasting solutions,” Carper said. “That’s how I think we should approach almost all of our work here in the Senate — by reaching out to our colleagues across the aisle to create lasting solutions to the problems facing our nation. The bill before us today is a product of that partnership.”