Ron Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson

Everyday, mayors like myself look for ways to build up and improve our communities, put more people to work and strengthen our economy. What I know firsthand, and what I believe my fellow mayors and governors would agree on, is there are projects too large for states or cities to budget on their own. We need the federal government to be a partner to help us deliver for our communities.

That’s why the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which just passed the U.S. Senate is a huge win for Manitowoc and the United States. This plan will make historic investments in Wisconsin to rebuild our roads and bridges and ensure access to clean water and high-speed internet. While the vast majority of senators put partisanship aside for the best interests of our country, Sen. Ron Johnson opposed the plan and went so far as to lead efforts to block this bill from ever passing.

Anyone who’s been to our working-class city knows continuing to expand and upgrade our infrastructure is a top priority. We need partners in the Senate who aren’t there to play partisan political games and put Wisconsinites' livelihoods in the balance — Sen. Johnson has made it clear that’s not him. Whether it’s this bipartisan infrastructure bill, the American Rescue Plan, or tax cuts for working families with children, Sen. Johnson has continuously stood against Manitowoc’s and Wisconsin’s best interests.

Still, I am left wondering how Sen. Johnson could have voted against this bipartisan infrastructure bill. It’s a job creator, a road fixer, a bridge builder, an internet booster and will strengthen our economy. Sen. Johnson himself has acknowledged we need infrastructure investments, but these were hollow words as he has been against this legislation from the beginning.

What’s more is the bipartisan infrastructure bill will also make us far more competitive with China, helping our industrious city level the playing field with a country that has stripped jobs from Manitowoc and other communities across Wisconsin. By voting against this legislation, Johnson once again sided with China, just as he did when he voted against the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which aims to curtail China's economic rigging.

Instead of fighting to bring our tax dollars back to Wisconsin, which could put people to work and put money in Wisconsinites’ wallets, Johnson’s priority has been giving tax handouts to the ultra-rich and giant corporations. Johnson is okay spending money when it fits his personal agenda, but for the rest of us — the city of Manitowoc and Wisconsin — we aren’t even an afterthought.

I am grateful and want to thank the Democrats and Republicans who joined together to deliver this infrastructure bill as I know how transformative it will be for Manitowoc. Sen. Johnson has forgotten about us during his 11 years in Washington. I, and the city I represent, remember who stands up for us and who casts us aside. We will not forget that Sen. Johnson stood against a win for all of us.

Justin Nickels is the mayor of Manitowoc.

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