Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy explains next steps for infrastructure plan

Louisiana

WASHINGTON D.C. (BRPROUD) – A major bipartisan infrastructure deal now has approval from President Joe Biden. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy has been at the forefront of the talks and is hopeful it’ll gain support across the aisle.

The plan lays out $1.2 trillion in projects over eight years to go towards improving roads, bridges, broadband and much more in infrastructure.

“We’ve all agreed that none of us got all that we wanted,” President Biden said. “I clearly didn’t get all I wanted, they gave maybe more than they were inclined in the first place but this reminds me of the days when we used to get a lot done in the United States Congress.”

While the plan has over $550 billion in new spending, it is a much-reduced plan compared to the president’s initial $2.25 trillion proposal. It will be paid for by reallocating some of the pandemic relief aid, local investment, and several other options.

“There has been so much fraud in some of these COVID relief packages that if we go after the fraud, there will be a lot of money recovered from there,” Sen. Cassidy said. “There is an investment bank being created and the investment bank, in turn, creates new capital and so that will also add to the total.”

If this bill is passed, it would mean extra funds would be sent to the state legislature to dole out to priority projects such as six-laning I-10 or fixing water systems.

“A state priority would be a new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge,” Sen. Cassidy said. “A new bridge over the Calcasieu River ship channel, I-49 north and I-49 south.”

Now congress heads into a two-week recess where Sen. Cassidy said the language of the bill will be finalized and the bipartisan team will work to garner support from both republicans and democrats.

“We still have to make sure that the President and Schumer and Pelosi will keep their word and kind of have a back and forth if it looks like they won’t,” Sen. Cassidy said.

Louisiana Representative Garret Graves released a statement against the bipartisan plan.

“This ‘deal’ ignores the first-order, project delivery problems that are the reason why the government is failing at infrastructure to begin with – and by simply putting good money on top of bad, all it will do is increase the number of bad outcomes we already have. The STARTER Act we introduced would result in more roads and bridges being built because it addresses reforming the project delivery process.”

There are talks of the House not taking up the bill until a budget reconciliation bill is passed, which could lose republican support. The discussions will resume in July when Congress convenes.

Information from White House Fact Sheet:

Infrastructure Framework

Total (in billions)$579
Transportation$312
Roads, bridges, major projects$109
Safety$11
Public transit$49
Passenger and Freight Rail$66
EV infrastructure$7.5
Electric buses / transit$7.5
Reconnecting communities$1
Airports$25
Ports & Waterways$16
Infrastructure Financing$20
Other Infrastructure$266
Water infrastructure$55
Broadband infrastructure$65
Environmental remediation$21
Power infrastructure incl. grid authority$73
Western Water Storage$5
Resilience$47

Proposed Financing Sources for New Investment

  • Reduce the IRS tax gap
     
  • Unemployment insurance program integrity
     
  • Redirect unused unemployment insurance relief funds
     
  • Repurpose unused relief funds from 2020 emergency relief legislation
     
  • State and local investment in broadband infrastructure
     
  • Allow states to sell or purchase unused toll credits for infrastructure
     
  • Extend expiring customs user fees
     
  • Reinstate Superfund fees for chemicals
     
  • 5G spectrum auction proceeds
     
  • Extend mandatory sequester
     
  • Strategic petroleum reserve sale
     
  • Public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds and asset recycling for infrastructure investment
     
  • Macroeconomic impact of infrastructure investment

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