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Business leaders praise Fischer, Bacon for supporting infrastructure bill
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Business leaders praise Fischer, Bacon for supporting infrastructure bill

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Business representatives on Wednesday hailed the impact that the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill will have in Nebraska and saluted Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Don Bacon for crossing the aisle and joining with their Democratic colleagues in enacting the Biden administration proposal.

"It's been a longstanding priority for business," Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a conference call with Nebraska media which was joined by Chamber leaders in the state. 

"It's the lifeblood of our economy," he said. 

Sen. Deb Fischer

Fischer

Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Bryan Slone said business leaders "really appreciate" the bipartisan action of Fischer and Bacon, who is metropolitan Omaha's 2nd District congressman, in "stepping up and doing the right thing for Nebraska."

Omaha Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Brown said "their constituents clearly said yes" to the votes cast by Fischer and Bacon.

Bacon was one of 13 Republicans to vote for the legislation in the House; Fischer was one of 19 Republican senators to support the bill. 

Investments to improve and repair the nation's infrastructure, including most visibly its transportation elements like highways and bridges, are needed to allow the United States to compete globally, particularly with the growing economy of China, Bradley said. 

"Our infrastructure has suffered in recent years," he said, as Washington failed to take action and infrastructure funding "became a casualty of partisan division."

Nebraska will benefit from an additional $2.5 billion in federal funding to maintain and repair its highways. About $225 million is allocated for bridge construction and repair.

A key component of the package, which has largely gone unnoticed, is a $12.7 million allotment for cybersecurity protection in the state, Slone said.

"It's important to get started on that," he said.

Expansion of rural broadband service in Nebraska will be funded by a $100 million allotment.

Development of regional airports, including those in western Nebraska at Chadron and Alliance, should be included on a list of priorities, Slone said, along with the four-lane Heartland Expressway in the Panhandle.

"Agricultural and manufacturing growth areas" need to be part of the process, he said.

"The last significant project was the interstate system," Slone said. "We should not go decades between significant investments."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched construction of the Interstate Highway System in 1956. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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