U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said final congressional passage of the Biden administration’s major infrastructure plan comes down to “a fundamental issue” of the lack of water brought on by climate change.    

Harris made the comments Monday during a visit to Lake Mead, a man-made reservoir near the gambling and tourist destination city of Las Vegas, Nevada, which provides drinking water and electricity for more than 40 million people across seven western U.S. states and northern Mexico.  

The U.S. government in August declared the first-ever water shortage at Lake Mead, which has fallen to record lows amid a two decade-long drought in the Western United States. The shortage has forced officials to impose water rationing next year for Nevada, the neighboring state of Arizona and Mexico.

During the visit, the vice president promoted a $550 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, an agreement reached earlier this year between President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators. The investment includes tens of billions of dollars to shore up the nation’s water infrastructure and protect communities against the impact of climate change, including lingering heat waves and droughts, along with investments in water recycling and technology to convert sea water into usable drinking water.   

“This is about thinking ahead, recognizing where we are and where we’re headed — if we don’t address these issues with a sense of urgency, understanding this is literally about life,” Harris said.   

The infrastructure plan has been approved by the U.S. Senate, but is stalled in the House over intense and increasingly bitter negotiations over funding for the president’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, which would provide a significant boost to the nation’s social safety net.   

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press. 

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