Valued Partnership between Kenya & Delaware Thrives

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Sen. Tom Carper’s Insights from Visiting Infrastructure Projects in Delaware and Kenya

Historically, members of the United States Congress take most of August as a recess session before reconvening after Labor Day. This year, during this annual recess, I explored Delaware widely, forming collaborations with Sen. Chris Coons, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, and several other state and local officials.

Insights from Infrastructure Projects in Delaware

Our visit included numerous construction projects across Delaware, with many funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I co-authored in my role as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in 2021. This law is addressing critical needs in Delaware’s rural and historically underserved communities including public transit, legacy pollution, broadband access, improvements to the Route 9 Corridor, and more. For instance, the law allocates approximately $186 million over five years to enhance public transit, a key factor for equity in our state where non-white households are nearly four times more likely to commute via public transit. Furthermore, it provides $100 million to expand affordable, high-speed internet access in Delaware. Each investment dollar signifies an improvement in the quality of life for all residents in the First State.

The Inflation Reduction Act has also steered our nation towards a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of this decade. This law has already spurred the creation of over 170,000 new clean energy jobs in just a year, fostering a clean energy boom, reducing everyday costs for families, and creating well-paid jobs nationwide. Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act is successfully reducing healthcare costs, with Americans across the country, from Delaware to the West Coast, experiencing the impact of substantial cost savings.

Conversations with Delaware Residents

During our visit, we had the opportunity to interact with numerous business owners, farmers, families, and students. In these ‘customer call’ visits, we typically posed three essential questions: How are you doing? How are we (Delaware’s congressional delegation and our state and local government officials) doing? What can we do to help?

Learning from Kenya

In mid-August, Sen. Coons and I joined a bipartisan group of nearly 20 House members for a five-day seminar in Kenya organized by the nonpartisan Aspen Institute. The seminar aimed to concentrate on America’s involvement in Africa and the growth opportunities present there. The Aspen Institute has been regularly hosting bipartisan gatherings of Congressional members both domestically and internationally, to discuss a range of challenges and opportunities that may benefit from bipartisan solutions.

Many Americans, including my wife and I, were introduced to Kenya through the Academy Award-winning film “Out of Africa,” starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. More recently, we admired Kenya’s long-distance runners who dominated several events in the Olympic competition. However, our brief visit to Kenya underscored the nation’s potential for mutual benefit and enriched partnership.

Opportunities and Challenges in Kenya

In Kenya, we found the population to be warm, friendly, and proud of their country’s vast scenic beauty. We also learned about their efforts to conserve their wildlife through the establishment of numerous conservatories. As Africa is projected to account for one-quarter of the world’s population by 2050, we have a moral obligation to help Kenyans continue to innovate and progress their country.

Delaware and Kenya: Partnerships and Learning Opportunities

As we explore ways in which Delaware and Kenya can learn from each other, it’s clear that both regions punch above their weight in various sectors. Similar to Delaware, some of Kenya’s major industries are agriculture and tourism. As the world’s focus shifts towards green energy due to the climate crisis, both Delaware and Kenya are making significant strides in this area. Kenya, for instance, is now meeting over 80% of its energy requirements through renewable sources.

We also had the opportunity to meet U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, who highlighted several challenges and opportunities in Kenya. Despite these challenges, Kenya’s progress in curbing corruption and developing a consistent, transparent, and fairly administered tax policy is noteworthy.

The visit concluded with a modest to-do list for when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day. Top on the list is the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); the implementation of climate provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act to reduce drought in Kenya and other countries; and the continuation of the DREAMS partnership that addresses factors making girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV.

In conclusion, my August travel has been an eye-opening experience, with many parallels drawn between the priorities in Delaware and Kenya. I am eager to commence work in our nation’s Capital to advance these shared priorities in the state and in the Senate.

Sen. Tom Carper has represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate since 2001.

US Senator Tom Carper

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