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Mid-South lawmakers split on $1.2T infrastructure bill

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 10:22 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Biden administration is celebrating a major victory after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package Tuesday, August 10, 2021.

This is a big win for President Biden, “proof that government works,” said one administration official. After months of intense negotiations, the infrastructure bill passed by a wide bipartisan majority of 69 to 30.

Roger Wicker from Mississippi was one of 19 Republican senators who voted for the plan.

“At the end of the day, I believe this package will do a great service for the United States of America, and a great service for my home state of Mississippi,” Wicker said on the Senate floor.

Wicker says the package provides Mississippi a lump sum of $3.3 billion for roads and highways, $225 million for bridge repair and replacement, $100 million for broadband, $223 million for public transit, $283 million for water projects, and an estimated $100 million for airport upgrades.

That wasn’t enough to convince Mississippi’s other Republican senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith, who called the package a “trojan horse spending plan” that increases the deficit.

Both of Tennessee’s Republican U.S. senators voted against it. Senator Bill Hagerty called the infrastructure deal a smoke-screen to distract from the $3.5 trillion tax and spend spree just around the corner, referring to Biden’s next plan before the Senate, which includes child care, elder care, and other social programs.

Senator Marsha Blackburn said of her no-vote, “We don’t need this bill. We need true infrastructure, not a wish list for socialist projects.”

The two Republicans from Arkansas also voted down the bill. Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman both objected to the high cost and impact on the national debt.

But for Wicker, the time for this infrastructure plan is right now.

“Republicans and Democrats agree that roads, bridges, broadband, ports, and rail are the building blocks of a healthy economy,” he said. “This bill makes historic down payments on those core priorities.”

The bill now heads to the House, where it faces an uncertain future. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they won’t take up the infrastructure plan until the Senate passes Biden’s other, massive $3.5 trillion package. Wicker calls the larger package a “reckless, tax and spending spree that our country does not need and cannot afford.”

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