Sen. Cassidy touts infrastructure bill
Louisiana could benefit greatly from a proposed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that would bring more funds for roads and highways, along with sewer and upgrades and broadband expansions, according to Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy.
The Infrastructure Jobs and Investment Act, drafted by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and President Joe Biden, would allow $550 billion in new federal infrastructure investments over the next five years. It would also funnel $65 billion to rebuild the electrical grid and allocate funds for expansion of broadband service.
“Everything I’ve described will create hundreds of thousands of if hot millions of jobs directly and indirectly,” Cassidy said. “Think of all the folks who will work in construction or work in the chemical industry to make the chemicals necessary for all of this construction.”
The bill has drawn sharp criticism from some Republicans, including freshman Congresswoman Rep. Julia Letlow, R-Start. She has criticized the bill for what she deemed excessive spending that will lead to higher taxes.
Cassidy has also come under fire for crossing party lines with other Republicans to help President Biden and other Democrats draft the bill.
“Some people think I’m being disloyal to the Republican party, but I’m being loyal to the people of Louisiana and to the people of the United States,” Cassidy said. “And to say that this will raise taxes on the American people is not true.”
Some of the funding would come from repurposed COVID-19 relief funds for which the Congressional Budget Office will not credit, he said.
The expansion for broadband internet could provide a major boost for residents in rural areas.
It could change the way many people go to work, Cassidy said.
“Imagine if we had high speed internet and people could live on this beautiful lake and commute by Zoom to New Orleans,” he said.
The bill would also provide funding for ecosystem restoration, along with upgrades to water and sewer.
The projects funded under the bill would also give Louisiana a boost in the job market.
“Instead of supplemental payment for unemployed, we’re going to create jobs,” Cassidy said. “Congress has appropriated the money and has repurposed it to create jobs.”
Projects funded through the bill would boost the chemical industry because of the demand in materials for projects, he said.
“The chemical industry will sell more chemicals than ever imagined, hiring operators, doing turnarounds to make sure they’re keeping up with demand, and the stock company rose dramatically,” Cassidy said. “This would range from the low-skill jobs all the way to the factory and plant jobs we love so much.”
Funds for roads are allocated by a certain amount based on population and road miles.
Sewer and water processing goes through revolving funds already in the state, already in place to fund over $300 billion in projects.
Money for roads and bridges would go through the state and would be distributed to each region, Cassidy said.
“If Livonia wanted to apply for the revolving water fund, they could pull down dollars to restore their system,” he said.
It would also allocate $50 million for the Lake Pontchartrain Restoration Project and $100 million for the Mississippi River and Tributary System.
“And that’s money for us,” Cassidy said. “People criticize me because I was willing to be in the room to negotiate.”