By William Patrick | The Center Square
Louisiana could receive billions of dollars in new federal infrastructure spending despite a disagreement over the plan between the state’s two U.S. senators.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., was a lead negotiator in the roughly $1 trillion “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” proposal that reached bipartisan agreement Wednesday evening. The plan includes $550 billion in new spending on top of reauthorizing existing federal infrastructure programs at their highest funding levels.
“Louisiana has been impacted more than any other state by flooding and natural disasters these past few years. In addition to billions for roads and bridges, it includes $47 billion dollars to address resiliency and protect communities,” he said.
“This is the largest investment in roads, bridges, broadband, and our coastline in the history of our state,” Cassidy added.
The legislation isn’t a done deal, though it passed a key milestone when 67 senators voted in favor of a procedural measure to advance the bill toward floor debate; 60 senators are needed for final passage.
U.S. Senator John Kennedy, also a Louisiana Republican, voted against the bill along with 31 GOP colleagues. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, voiced the dissenting view, saying the full text has not been released and that the trillion-dollar spending package will only add to current “inflationary pressures and mounting federal debt.”
“Housing, food, gasoline and electricity are all becoming more expensive in large part because the federal government keeps spending more money than it has,” Lee said.
Despite concerns over what will appear in the finalized version of the Democratic-led bill, Cassidy said he received commitments for billions of dollars for Louisiana infrastructure projects.
“It would fund more than $6 billion for Louisiana’s roads and highways,” he said, adding that the state’s 1,634 bridges and over 3,411 miles of highway in “poor condition.”
“Commute times are up 9.3 percent since 2011 and bad roads result in an average cost to drivers of $667 per year,” he said.
Another $6 billion will purportedly fund state highway improvements and $371 million will go to Louisiana’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which includes $53 million for Lake Pontchartrain.
Funding for the state’s airports and streamlined permitting processes are included, as are grants for erosion, flooding and habitat restoration along Louisiana’s coastal shorelines.