GOVERNMENT

House approves $1.5T plan to fix crumbling infrastructure

Jul 2, 2020, 5:04 AM
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, shows a note...
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, shows a note to Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House has approved a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into projects to fix roads and bridges, upgrade transit systems, expand interstate railways and dredge harbors, ports and channels. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin, File)
(AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-controlled House approved a $1.5 trillion plan Wednesday to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into projects to fix roads and bridges, upgrade transit systems, expand interstate railways and dredge harbors, ports and channels.

Utah’s lone Democrat, Rep. Ben McAdams opposed the bill.

The bill also authorizes more than $100 billion to expand internet access for rural and low-income communities and $25 billion to modernize the U.S. Postal Service’s infrastructure and operations, including a fleet of electric vehicles.

Lawmakers approved the Moving Forward Act by a 233-188 vote, mostly along party lines. It now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a much narrower bill approved by a key committee has languished for nearly a year. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not attempted to schedule a floor debate and none appears forthcoming.

The idea of “Infrastructure Week” in the era of President Trump has become a long-running inside joke in Washington because there was little action to show for it. Still, Wednesday’s vote represented at least a faint signal of momentum for the kind of program that has traditionally held bipartisan appeal.

Democrats hailed the House bill, which goes far beyond transportation to fund schools, health care facilities, public utilities and affordable housing.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a sponsor of the legislation, called it a “transformational investment in American infrastructure that will create millions of jobs.”

Republicans ridiculed the bill for what they called a Green New Deal-style focus on climate.

“Instead of seeking bipartisan solutions, this bill adds $1.5 trillion to the nation’s debt and disguises a heavy-handed and unworkable Green New Deal regime of new requirements as an ‘infrastructure bill,'” said Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the top Republican on the transportation panel.

Graves blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for turning what has traditionally been a bipartisan issue in Congress — infrastructure — into what he called “a partisan wish list.”

Republicans scored a rare procedural victory, winning approval of an amendment to block money from the bill going to Chinese state-owned enterprises or companies responsible for building internment camps for the nation’s Uighur minority.

The White House promised a veto if the measure reaches the president’s desk. In a statement this week, the White House said the bill “is heavily biased against rural America,” is based on debt financing and “fails to tackle the issue of unnecessary permitting delays” that have long impeded infrastructure projects.

President Donald Trump has frequently declared his support for infrastructure projects and pledged during the 2016 campaign to spend at least $1 trillion to improve infrastructure. Since taking office,

Mr. Trump has repeatedly called for enactment of an infrastructure package — but those efforts have failed to result in legislation.

Hopes were dashed last year when Pres. Trump said he wouldn’t deal with Democrats if they continued to investigate him. The House later impeached him.

The President said after signing a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that low interest rates made it a good time to borrow money to pay for an infrastructure bill. No formal proposal has emerged, although the White House has suggested the next virus response bill could include an infrastructure component.

The centerpiece of the House legislation is a nearly $500 billion, 5-year surface transportation plan for roads, bridges and railways. The White House said in its veto threat that the proposal is “heavily skewed toward programs that would disproportionately benefit America’s urban areas.” The bill would divert money from the Highway Trust Fund to transit and rail projects that “have seen declining market shares in recent years,” the White House statement said.

Democrats countered that the bill would rebuild the nation’s transportation infrastructure, not only by fixing crumbling roads and bridges, but also by investing in public transit and the national rail network, boosting low- and zero-emission vehicles and cutting carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.

The bill also authorizes $130 billion in school infrastructure targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that endanger the health and safety of students and educators, Democrats said. The schools portion alone could create more than 2 million jobs, they said.

The bill would spend more than $100 billion to create or preserve at least 1.8 million affordable homes. “These investments will help reduce housing inequality, create jobs and stimulate the broader economy,” Democrats said in a “fact sheet” promoting the bill.

The measure also would upgrade child care facilities and protect access to safe drinking water by investing $25 billion in a state revolving fund that ensures communities have clean drinking water and remove dangerous contaminants from local water systems.

Three Republicans voted in favor of the bill: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Reps. Jeff Van Drew and Chris Smith, both of New Jersey. Two Democrats opposed it: Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Ben McAdams of Utah.
__
Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this story.

Today’s Top Stories

Government

Herbert Cox statement Reyes election lawsuit...
Mark Jones

State of Utah files lawsuit against pharmaceutical retailers

Three pharmaceutical retailers are facing a lawsuit from the State of Utah. The lawsuit was filed the week of July 1.
2 days ago
This June 20, 2017, photo provided by Chris Wonderly shows Hovenweep Castle at Hovenweep National M...
Curt Gresseth

Supreme Court widens state power over tribes. What does it mean for Utah?

The director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs discusses the recent US Supreme Court ruling and what it means for tribes in Utah.
3 days ago
Ketanji Brown Jackson takes the oath for the Supreme Court....
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Jackson sworn in, becomes 1st Black woman on Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, will be sworn as the court's 116th justice Thursday, just as the man she is replacing, Justice Stephen Breyer, retires.
3 days ago
Immigration activists rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 26. Photo credi...
Tierney Sneed and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

Supreme Court says Biden can end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy.
3 days ago
The Supreme Court is pictured. The court just limited the EPA...
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions

The Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation's main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
3 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, ...
DARLENE SUPERVILLE and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

Biden says transatlantic alliance has adapted to new threats

Biden's comments came at a press conference in Madrid at the conclusion of the annual meeting of NATO leaders and after he attended a summit with the Group of Seven advanced democratic economies in the Bavarian Alps.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
House approves $1.5T plan to fix crumbling infrastructure