Sen. Bob Casey leads bipartisan effort to rebuild deteriorating Susquehanna bridge - TAI News
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Sen. Bob Casey meets with community leaders at a roundtable event in North Philadelphia, April 26, 2024 (Photo via Bob Casey/Facebook)

Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey organized all 17 members of the state’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation to jointly request federal discretionary funds to replace the deteriorating Interstate 83 John Harris Memorial Bridge, also called the I-83 South Bridge, over the Susquehanna River. Their letter specifically cited President Joe Biden’s 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as a funding source, even though seven of the Republican signers voted against that law.

In their April 30 letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Casey and his colleagues note that replacement of the bridge, which connects Dauphin County to Cumberland County, is both critical and currently unfunded.

“To that end, we are writing as representatives from all areas of Pennsylvania—including districts located hundreds of miles away from the I-83 South Bridge—to highlight our strong collective desire to see this project receive significant federal discretionary funding,” they wrote. “The U.S. Department of Transportation has already use[d] funding from major grant programs under IIJA to support other high-priority bridge projects and we believe that the I-83 South Bridge in Pennsylvania can and should be a worthy addition to that cohort.” 

The bipartisan infrastructure law made federal dollars available to repair and replace roads, bridges, water systems, rail, transit, and airports, as well as for expanded access to broadband and electric vehicle charging stations. In Pennsylvania, that money has helped support manufacturing jobs, improved drinking water safety, and supported the replacement of Pittsburgh’s collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge and other roads and bridges. ABC News reported in January 2022 that the commonwealth had 3,353 bridges in poor condition; that number dropped to 3,022 in 2023.

Casey voted for the law, calling it “a game changer for Pennsylvania”; every Democratic U.S. representative and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick also voted for it. 

Republican Reps. John Joyce, Mike Kelly, Dan Meuser, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler, Lloyd Smucker, and Glenn Thompson all voted no. “Unfortunately, it is shameful that Democrats used a bipartisan issue to advance their radical, socialist goals,” Reschenthaler said at the time, dubbing the legislation a “Socialist Spending Spree.”

Many House Republicans have been happy to take advantage of the infrastructure funding they voted against.

Former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly failed to keep his own promises to improve infrastructure during his term in office, unsuccessfully tried to stop passage of Biden’s law. “Who are these RINO Republicans that are so dedicated to giving the Radical Left Democrats a big and beautiful win on Infrastructure?” he said in a July 2021 statement. “Republican voters will never forget their name, nor will the people of our Country!”

Casey is seeking reelection this November. His Republican opponent Dave McCormick has repeatedly said he wants to repeal the entire infrastructure law. 

“The No. 1 thing you do with a Senate majority and a House majority and a Republican president in the White House is you roll back all those incredible, expensive Biden bills — the infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better — all of that stuff, that’s the money that’s driving this huge uptick in inflation,” McCormick said in a January radio interview on “The John Fredericks Show.”

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The Pennsylvania Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.