Local Reps Decry Infrastructure Bill

By Benjamin Cox on November 7, 2021 at 9:30am

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Friday night, with a majority of Democrats and 13 Republicans voting in favor. The bill passed by a narrow 228-206 margin.

The bill, which includes $550 billion in new federal spending and reauthorizes several existing programs. The bill passed by a similar contentious vote in the U.S. Senate nearly three months ago.

18th District Congressman Darin LaHood called the bill irresponsible: “I voted no tonight on the infrastructure bill which enables the Democrats to ram through their reckless tax and spending agenda using reconciliation. Given the reconciliation process initiated by President Biden and Speaker Pelosi at the behest of Senator Sanders and the radical progressive wing of the Democrat party, the reality remains that the infrastructure bill and reconciliation package are linked and cannot be viewed separately. A vote for the infrastructure bill is a vote that paves the way for an extreme reconciliation spending bill that includes crippling tax hikes that will kill American jobs and send them overseas, hammer small businesses as they struggle to recover from COVID-19, and worsen the labor shortage while driving up inflation on working families.

“If Democrats wanted this to be a bipartisan process with robust debate and input from both parties, they would have brought the infrastructure bill forward through regular order when it passed the Senate in August. Instead, they tied the two bills together to accomplish a radical social agenda that will leave future generations of taxpayers footing the bill.

“I have consistently advocated for responsible infrastructure investment in our roads, bridges, inland waterways, and rural broadband. I will continue to advocate for the transportation and infrastructure needs of my district, but I will not take part in helping the Democrats and Speaker Pelosi pass their irresponsible and partisan reconciliation package.”

13th District Congressman Rodney Davis called it typical tax-and-spend style legislation from Democrats: “I’m beyond disappointed that President Biden and Democrats in Congress paired bipartisan infrastructure investment to their reckless, multi-trillion-dollar, tax-and-spending proposal. At a time when inflation is persisting and the prices of goods and services continue to rise, we cannot afford pouring over three-trillion dollars of new government spending into the economy, particularly after the Democrats passed their nearly-two-trillion-dollar spending bill earlier this year. “It’s time for Congress to stop the spending blowout and take action to address the supply chain crisis and get inflation under control. That’s what American families need.”

15th District Congresswoman Mary Miller added to the backlash, calling the 13 Republicans who voted for the bill “spineless” on Twitter: “Only 3 days after voters rejected Biden’s failed policies in deep blue VA & NJ, 13 spineless “Republicans” decided to tag-team with Democrats and helped pass their $5 TRILLION socialist takeover of our country.”

16th District Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who voted with Democrats for the bill, hit back at Miller and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene equating the bill to communism and socialism: “Infrastructure = communism is a new one. Eisenhower’s interstate system should be torn up or else the commies will be able to conveniently drive! Red Dawn in real life.”

Six House Democrats –Reps. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Talib of Michigan–  voted against the bill. According to USA Today, they had sought assurances that moderate Democrats would back Biden’s $1.85 trillion Build Back Better budget bill before voting on the infrastructure bill.

Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth took on the opposing opinion on the bill, saying it puts the country on the path forward to some major improvements: “No one should have to worry if the water in their home is safe for their family or if the bridge they’re driving over is safe. With this bill, we can put our country on the path toward providing safe water, better roads and much more for our working families. This Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal makes transformative investments to enhance our global competitiveness, economic prosperity and public health and create good-paying jobs and I look forward to President Biden signing this landmark legislation into law.”

Senator Dick Durbin called the bill historic: “Today, a historic deal is making its way to the President’s desk. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a once-in-a-generation reinvestment to mend our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, expand public transit and rail, and provide clean drinking water and broadband to our communities in need. I commend the House on passing the bill yesterday and I look forward to seeing the positive impact of this landmark legislation on communities in Illinois.”

According to Duckworth and Durbin, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Illinois will receive:

  • Water Infrastructure: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes Duckworth’s entire Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which would help rebuild our nation’s crumbling and dangerous water infrastructure, and also provides five years’ worth of appropriations totaling $1.7 billion to improve drinking and wastewater infrastructure throughout Illinois.
  • Roads and bridges: $9.8 billion for federal-aid highway projects and $1.4 billion for bridge replacement and repairs. The state will be eligible for billions more in competitive grant programs.
  • Public transportation: Approximately $4 billion over 5 years to improve public transportation options across the state. The state will be eligible for billions more in competitive grant programs.
  • Broadband: A minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 228,000 Illinoisans who currently lack it. 2,926,000 Illinoisans, or 23%, will be eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford Internet access.
  • Airports: Approximately $616 million for airport improvements over 5 years, increasing the Airport Improvement Grant Program and creating a new Airport Terminal Improvement Program.
  • Electric vehicles: $149 million over 5 years to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network in the state. Illinois is eligible for $2.5 billion in competitive EV charging grants.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes a modified version of Duckworth’s All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act to help make transit stations more accessible. It also includes a modified version of Durbin’s Protecting Roadside First Responders Act, which requires the implementation of life-saving, crash avoidance safety technologies including automatic emergency braking systems on new vehicles, funds the deployment of digital alert technology for first responders, and increases public awareness of “Move Over” laws.