Capital Clicks

Buttigieg promotes federal infrastructure funding for rural Iowa

By: - April 21, 2022 4:44 pm

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg promoted the infrastructure bill on April 21, 2022. (Screenshot from Zoom news conference)

More than $5 billion headed to Iowa through the federal infrastructure bill will particularly help rural areas, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne said Thursday.

Axne and Buttigieg told Iowa reporters the bipartisan infrastructure law would include funding to repair bridges, invest in airports, expand broadband and more.

“We know how essential infrastructure can be, especially in rural areas and in the kinds of communities that I saw as I got to know Iowa so well,” Buttigieg said.

Iowa Democrats have repeatedly criticized Gov. Kim Reynolds and other Republicans for celebrating projects that use funding from the federal infrastructure bill or COVID-19 relief — funding that many Republicans opposed. Axne and Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican, were the only members of Iowa’s delegation to support the infrastructure bill.

Axne said the important thing was that the funding was put to good use, but that she was “disappointed” to see elected officials not giving credit to the federal government.

“I think it’s time that elected officials of all stripes step up and hold themselves transparent and accountable to the truth,” Axne said. “So, personally, I would ensure that I would give credit where credit is due, and I certainly hope that other elected officials, including the governor, will do that when this money is expended.”

Buttigieg said it seemed like people of all political parties were eager to use the infrastructure funding.

“The point of this is to benefit communities. You cut through the politics and it’s about making sure we actually get things done,” Buttigieg said. “The bridges aren’t Republican or Democrat.”

Buttigieg defers on Iowa caucus fight

Buttigieg won the 2020 Iowa Caucuses after months of campaigning in Iowa, walking in parades and riding State Fair rides. But Buttigieg may have been one of the final Democrats to campaign extensively in Iowa, as the Democratic National Convention voted earlier this month to allow other states to apply for the coveted first-in-the-nation spot.

Buttigieg said he had not been closely following the process.

“One thing about being Transportation secretary is I get to spend less time concerned with campaigns and elections and more with infrastructure delivery,” he told reporters. “I’m not up on all of the latest discussions that have happened there, but I am very thankful that my experience during the caucuses allowed me to get to know Iowa so well.”

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.