PHOENIX - Arizona leaders are talking about the benefits Arizonans could reap from the infrastructure package, as senators in Washington D.C. unveiled the bill on Aug. 2.
Bill includes major investments in various areas
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act clocked in at some 2,700 pages. A key part of President Joe Biden’s agenda, the bipartisan bill is the first phase of the president's infrastructure plan. It calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years above projected federal levels, what could be one of the more substantial expenditures on the nation’s roads, bridges, waterworks, broadband and the electric grid in years.
Among the major new investments, the bipartisan package is expected to provide $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for rail. There’s also set to be $55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure as well as billions for airports, ports, broadband internet and electric vehicle charging stations.
The spending is broadly popular among lawmakers, bringing long-delayed capital for big-ticket items that cites and states can rarely afford on their own.
It is expected the Grand Canyon state will receive a share of the money, but state-specific details are short. In fact, Arizona is only written three times in the whole document.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttgieg says the specifics will come later.
"It hasn't been built on a project by basis," Secretary Buttgieg said.
Bill could face challenges in Cogress
Paying for the package has been a challenge after senators rejected ideas to raise revenue from a new gas tax or other streams. Instead, it is being financed from funding sources that might not pass muster with deficit hawks, including repurposing some $205 billion in untapped COVID-19 relief aid, as well as unemployment assistance that was turned back by some states and relying on projected future economic growth.
The bipartisan bill still faces a rough road in the House, where progressive lawmakers want a more robust package but may have to settle for this one to keep Biden’s infrastructure plans on track.
The outcome with the bipartisan effort will set the stage for the next debate over Biden’s much more ambitious $3.5 trillion package, a strictly partisan pursuit of far-reaching programs and services including child care, tax breaks and health care that touch almost every corner of American life. Republicans strongly oppose that bill, which would require a simple majority for passage. Final votes on that measure are not expected until fall.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Mesa Mayor John Giles speak out
In Congress, Arizona Senator Krysten Simena says they are proud to announce the legislation.
"We know this has been a long and sometimes difficult process but we're proud this event to announce this legislation," Sen. Sinema said.
Meanwhile, Mesa Mayor John Giles says as a nation, the U.S. has really fallen behind when it comes to infrastructure.
"We've been doing it without as much federal assistance as we need and deserve so this would come in and fill some of those gaps and make it less burdensome on local taxpayers, Mayor Giles said. He went on to say that he has plenty of projects in mind that he would apply for, like expanding roads in East Mesa, and widening the US-60.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
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