Pennsylvania already benefiting from Biden’s infrastructure bill

Nine of the 10 Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation voted against the $550 billion bill.

Pennsylvania is set to be on the receiving end of billions of dollars in federal funding under President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, legislation that was opposed by all but one of the 10 Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation.

On Jan. 25, the Department of Health and Human Services announced $100 million in aid to help families across the country pay home heating and air conditioning bills, the first installment of a five-year program. More than $3.4 million of that will go to Pennsylvania.

On Jan. 14, the Transportation Department announced that Pennsylvania would receive $1.63 billion over the next five years to improve bridges across the state, of which more than $327 million will come in fiscal year 2022.

Both allocations come from funding made available under the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $550 billion investment in transportation, water systems, broadband, and electrical grid infrastructure.

The bill passed the Senate in August by a vote of 69-30. Pennsylvania’s Democratic Sen. Bob Casey voted for it; GOP Sen. Pat Toomey voted no.

Though 19 Republican senators backed the package, 200 House Republicans voted against final passage in November. These included Pennsylvania Republican Reps. John Joyce, Fred Keller, Mike Kelly, Daniel Meuser, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler, Lloyd Smucker, and Glenn Thompson.

All nine Pennsylvania House Democrats and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick voted yes.

The bill passed in the House by a vote of 228-206 and was signed into law by Biden.

According to Casey’s office, the bill has already provided benefits to Pennsylvania. The state has received grants of $70 million for its 62 airports; $31 million for Philadelphia and Berks County water infrastructure; $1.8 million for maintenance of lakes in the Pennsylvania Wilds region; $1.4 million for upkeep of Carbon County’s Betzville Lake Dam; and $1 million to maintain York’s Indian Rock Dam.

“These investments will help stimulate local economies and create jobs across Pennsylvania,” Casey said as he announced the airport funding on Dec. 16. “I’m proud to say this is just the beginning of infrastructure funding coming to Pennsylvania — over the next few years, we can expect billions of dollars more that will strengthen our communities and our economy.”

A White House fact sheet estimates that Pennsylvania will receive $11.3 billion for highway programs; $355 million for airport infrastructure over five years; $1.4 billion to improve water systems; $100 million for broadband; and $171 million for an electric vehicle charging network.

The $1.63 billion in bridge funding is especially important, given that the state has more than 3,300 bridges listed in poor condition. Last Friday, a bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed, injuring at least 10 people and sending three to the hospital.

On Jan. 7, Joyce touted a meeting with the state’s transportation department director, tweeting that the two had “discussed the important progress being made on our critical infrastructure projects across our Commonwealth.”

He made no mention of his vote against billions in funding for those projects.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.