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In Speech Before U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mike Bloomberg Announces Support for DC Statehood

January 22, 2020

In case you missed it, earlier today during a speech before the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., Mike Bloomberg announced his support for statehood for the District of Columbia. 

From Mike’s remarks: 

“This city’s future is brighter than ever – and a lot of the credit for that goes to my friend, Mayor Muriel Bowser.

“She is doing a terrific job – and I hope that someday soon we’ll be calling her Governor Bowser.

“The time has come for D.C. to become a state – with full voting rights.

“And as president, I’ll work with Congress to make it happen!”

During Mike’s speech at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, Mike also announced his plan to bring America’s infrastructure into the 21st century. Mike also released a new ad showcasing Trump’s broken promises on infrastructure.

Mike’s full remarks as delivered are available below. 

Remarks as Delivered 

“Brian, thank you for that kind introduction – and I’m glad you gave it just the way I wrote it.

“I also want to thank Tom Cochran, who I’ve known for a long time and has been a great leader for this group. He invited me to D.C. in January to give a speech and I said, ‘Oh, I’d be happy to do it.’ Actually, truth is, I’m hoping to give a speech in D.C. next year.

“The truth is, it’s great to be here and I’m honored. I think this city’s future is brighter than ever – and a lot of the credit goes to my good friend, Mayor Muriel Bowser. She is doing a terrific job – and I hope someday soon we’ll be calling her Governor Bowser.

“I do think the time has come for D.C. to become a state with full voting rights. And as president, I’ll work with Congress to make that happen.

“I believe I’m the only candidate with three mayors serving as co-chairs of my campaign – and they are three of the most respected mayors in the country: Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, and Michael Tubbs, of Stockton, California.

“Our political co-chairs are two former mayors: Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and Manny Diaz of Miami, both who did a great job for their cities.

“So I guess you could say that our campaign has its own U.S. Conference of Mayors, and if you would like to join, we’d love to have you, so just be sure you sign up at the end.

“It’s no secret that I’m a big believer in the power of cities and communities to drive change. Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported mayors and local leaders in that work – and I’ve been lucky to work with many of you over the years.

“We’ve worked together to fight gun violence and confront the opioid epidemic. We’re working together to spread economic opportunity and connect people to jobs in growing industries. We’re working together to improve early childhood education and protect kids from tobacco and e-cigarettes. We’re working together to address climate change and strengthen communities against its impacts.

“In all that work, I’ve tried to help local leaders change the status quo and act boldly and try new things. You have done amazing work, and I’ve been honored to be part of it. So let me say thank you to all of you.

“I don’t know if the public realizes it, but you’re on the frontlines of the issues that matter most in this election, so it’s critical that you get out there and get your voices get heard. That’s what I’ve done through my foundation, and that’s what I’m doing through this campaign.

“And if I become president, I can just promise you the doors to the White House will be open to mayors, because the policies that the president designs are often implemented not at the state level, but at the local level.

“You will have a seat at the table in ways that have never happened before. I want your ideas, I want your feedback on what’s happening on the ground, and I want you to have the authority and resources to drive change.

“I will ask mayors and local leaders to be part of my unofficial kitchen cabinet on all of the big issues facing our country – and today, I’d like to focus on one that desperately needs federal leadership. It’s an issue at the heart of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 2020 Vision for America: and that’s infrastructure.

“Every few years, the American Society of Civil Engineers looks at the state of our infrastructure and gives it a letter grade. Last time, in 2017, they gave it a D-plus. A D-plus.

“For 20 years, we’ve either gotten a D or a D-plus. Now, I was never a great student. In fact, I was the kind of student who always made the top half of the class possible. But I will say I only got one D ever, and that was in French. And I remember going home and my parents screaming at me. Let me just say, if the state of America’s infrastructure is anywhere near as bad as my French, we are in an awful lot of trouble.

“I know we don’t all belong to the same political party, or share the same position on every issue. But I’ve never been shy about saying what I think. And the fact is under this president, the problem – like so many others – has been left to fester.

“Donald Trump has made promise after promise on infrastructure. What has he delivered? Nothing. Or as we say in French, ‘Bupkis.’

“There seems to be only one construction project that he cares about, and it’s a border wall that is a political gimmick – and a costly one – which is something even many Republicans acknowledge. It’s wasting billions of taxpayer dollars that should’ve gone to fix our roads and our bridges and our airports and our water lines, and to build the new infrastructure that we need. 

“Meanwhile, we’re falling further and further behind other countries on infrastructure – particularly China. We won’t beat China with trade wars that harm our own farmers and factory workers. We’ll do it by investing in America, and that’s what I would do as president.

“All of you see how badly we need more investment. Our roads are unsafe and clogged with traffic. Our bridges and dams are deteriorating. Our airports are congested, with more and more delays.

“Our railroads are stuck in the last century, and so is our power grid. Our infrastructure is adding to the climate crisis, rather than helping to solve it.

“Meanwhile, millions of Americans lack access to high-speed internet. Millions of American homes pipe in drinking water contaminated with lead and other dangerous chemicals. We just can’t accept that in America. Any of it.

“Today, I released my plan for repairing America’s infrastructure – and building the infrastructure that we need to grow and compete in the years ahead.

“It’s different from the way other candidates talk about infrastructure. They usually just talk about money – because most don’t have any experience managing big infrastructure projects.

“Don’t get me wrong, we need to invest more money in infrastructure. But mayors understand that money is only part of the problem.

“The fact is, even relatively simple projects take much too long and mayors don’t have enough say in what gets funded. Most of the federal funding that local communities need is funneled through state governments who often tap into those funds to pay for other things – like their own budget deficits. That’s not right, and we will fix it.

“We’ve come up with an approach, I think, that is smarter, faster, safer, and greener. And that includes putting more power in the hands of mayors and local leaders.

“In fact, I’ll work with Congress to make sure the next Transportation Authorization Bill requires states to distribute 100 percent of federal infrastructure funds intended for cities and towns to cities and towns. Imagine that.

“I’ll also create a national capital budget dedicated to long-term local infrastructure projects. That way, mayors and local leaders can begin important projects knowing that there will be money to finish them.

“We’ll also make it easier for communities to borrow to invest in the future. We’ll offer local governments federal loans for key infrastructure projects at a 1 percent interest. And we’ll expand Rebuild America Bonds and other tools that will open up access to private funding.

“I know how much local leaders can accomplish if they have the tools to do it. When our administration entered office in New York, much of the city’s critical infrastructure was old and strained. At the same time, our population was projected to grow by one million people before 2030, and climate change was presenting growing threats.

“So we created a long-term plan to prepare the city for the future, and we called it PlaNYC. We invested $2.7 billion in a new water tunnel to ensure safe, clean water for the future. We built the city’s first bus rapid transit lanes, and more than 400 miles of bike lanes. And we led the first city-funded extension of America’s largest urban train system in more than 50 years.

“When we left office, our carbon footprint had shrunk by 13 percent, far outpacing the national average. The number of jobs was at a record high. The air was cleaner than it had been in more than 50 years. And New Yorkers were living three years longer than they were when we entered office.

“We can make that kind of progress across this whole country. To do it, we need a plan – not just a budget. But we’ve never had a national infrastructure plan. We have never had national infrastructure goals or national metrics for measuring success. We’ve been driving without a steering wheel – and it’s no wonder that we’re in the ditch.

“My administration will change that. To start, we will create a national map tracing all roads, rails, transit, air, and freight routes. Believe it or not, that doesn’t even exist.

“We’ll create clear metrics for measuring the health of our infrastructure and the success of our investments.

“More and more American cities are doing that, including many of yours – and our foundation has been glad to help. I think it’s time the federal government caught up to what mayors are doing. Better measurement will lead to smarter investment – and also more accountability.

“Right now, states can apply for federal funding for new projects, without having to show that they are taking care of their existing infrastructure.

“I’ll require states to set benchmarks for maintenance and repair, and submit report cards on their progress. We did that for schools in New York City – and it helped increase graduation rates by 43 percent. We’ll allocate funding for new projects based on how well states are maintaining what they already have.

“In other words, we’ll reward based on performance, just like any business does. I know, what a crazy idea that is – make it work.

“We’ll also streamline the application process for federal grants, and the permitting process for new projects.

“President Trump wants to weaken environmental requirements – which is extremely dangerous. I will restore those requirements. But I will also make reviews faster and easier to complete – so we can speed up construction without putting lives in danger.

“We will allocate $850 billion over ten years to capital investments in roads, bridges, freight, and other infrastructure. We’ll factor climate change into every decision – and create a new financing corporation with $100 billion in annual Treasury credit to help build resilience. 

“These investments will create millions of good jobs – for carpenters, electricians, metalworkers, cement masons, mechanics, and people in every construction trade.

“We’ll make sure that everyone has the opportunity to compete for those jobs – by working with labor unions and others to help people acquire the skills they need through training and apprenticeships. That includes helping people affected by the transition to electric and autonomous vehicles so that workers benefit from new technology, and aren’t left behind.

“The plan we released will allow us to make progress on all the major infrastructure challenges we face, and let me just outline a few of our top goals.

“Number one is ensuring every American has access to clean water – an issue that has especially impacted communities of color. We’ll invest $100 billion over ten years to fix water systems in the communities at greatest risk, and we’ll start with those in crisis, like Flint and Newark.

“Number two, we will repair our roads and bridges. As part of that work, we’ll create a rapid repair fund – I call it the ‘pothole fund’ – with an annual budget of $1 billion.

“When I was mayor, I always encouraged New Yorkers to call our information hotline, 311, to report potholes, and I made sure to do that myself if I saw a pothole. One time, the city government operator asked me for my name. I said, ‘Mike Bloomberg.’ And she said, ‘Bloomberg. How do you spell that?’ Only in New York.

“Our plan includes the first-ever national effort to reduce road deaths – an issue that has not gotten nearly the attention that it should. In New York City, we cut road deaths by 24 percent through smarter street design and better rules and enforcement.

“If we spread those measures across the country, we can save something like 20,000 lives by the end of my first term. That’s a pretty good start.

“We’ll also prepare our roads for the spread of electric vehicles – by building more charging stations. But we’ll also give people more ways to get around.

“That’s number three, mass transit and railroads. We will triple federal investment in public transportation. We’ll help cities extend public transit to more people and offer more options, including bus rapid transit routes and bike lanes and rail links.

“Now, a lot of people talk about building more rail. Well, I’ve actually done it, when we extended the subway in New York City. And while lots of high-speed rail projects have been proposed, we will focus on what we can complete. So we will commit to finishing at least one high-speed rail corridor by 2025.

“The plan that we are releasing today also includes building new rail links to ten of our busiest airports by 2030 to make it easier and faster to get to them.

“That brings us to number four, modernizing America’s airports. We will speed up replacement of air traffic control systems and boost funding for improvements to terminals and other airport infrastructure so going to the airport can be an experience that travelers don’t dread – even on Thanksgiving.

“Number five, we’ll expand access to clean energy and high-speed internet. We’ll do that by modernizing and connecting the power grid – and by working with states and service providers to connect the more than 21 million Americans who still lack access to broadband.

“Investment in infrastructure helped make America the world’s biggest economy and the strongest political power. We’re at risk of losing that position – and we can’t let that happen.

“But better infrastructure will also make our country safer, healthier, and more fair – by helping to ensure equal access to opportunity.

“Local governments can help by leading the way. I know you can – because you already are. And the more we do to empower mayors and local leaders, the faster we can make progress.

“I’ve been in your shoes. I know that the federal government is too often an obstacle, and not a partner, in making the investments we need to build a brighter future.

“When I’m president, that will change. Our team will work hand-in-hand with mayors across the country on infrastructure, and on all the big challenges facing our nation. But first, we have to win a primary – and we can’t do that without a lot of help.

“Our campaign is building momentum – and we’re taking our message to towns and cities across the country. And I hope you’ll join the growing number of mayors and local leaders who are part of our campaign team.

“No one understands the problems facing our country better than local leaders. And no one will appreciate and value your support more than I will.

“Thank you again for inviting me, and for all your great work. I will still tell you, being a mayor is the best job in the world. I loved it for 12 years, and I would urge all of you to do 12 years. And if you have a minor problem like limits – change the law.

“Thank you all.”

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