Senate Passes Infrastructure Deal; Heads to House

The U.S. Senate approved the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Tuesday by a vote of 69-30 through the otherwise evenly divided chamber. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan deal would provide $550 billion in new spending to improve the nation’s streets, bridges, and other infrastructure and incorporate several of the Biden Administration’s priorities.

“After years and years of infrastructure week, we’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America,” said President Joe Biden soon after the Senate passed H.R. 3684.

The funding formula would provide Kentucky around $4.6 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $438 million for bridge replacement and repairs over the next five years. The state could also compete for additional billions of new dollars for major projects and economically significant bridges. The commonwealth currently has 1,033 bridges and over 1,322 miles of highways rated in poor condition.

Kentucky would also receive additional funding to address brownfield remediation, abandoned mine land reclamation, airport improvements, and transit investments. About $391 million over the next five years would expand the state’s public transportation options, and around $69 million would support expanding the electric vehicle charging network.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would provide the state a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including access to the at least 227,000 Kentuckians who currently lack it. Also, about 33% of Kentuckians would be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which would help low-income families afford internet access.

The state would receive $69 million to help Kentucky complete its Appalachian Development Highway System corridors. The package would also designate the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway – between Somerset and Interstate 65 near Park City – as an official interstate spur, a move that proponents argue could boost economic investment throughout south central Kentucky.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell voted in favor of the measure, while Kentucky Senator Rand Paul voted against the bill. “Communities all across the commonwealth will benefit from this bill, which will provide critical federal resources to assist the state in updating our highways, bridges, airports, broadband, and clean drinking water,” said McConnell. “Through today’s actions, we will be more competitive on the global stage and primed for broad-based economic growth.”

The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is unclear whether the bill will garner as much bipartisan support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed not to bring the infrastructure proposal to the floor until the Senate passes a budget resolution that includes many more of President Biden’s priorities. Budget resolutions allow legislation to avoid a potential Senate filibuster.

The Senate quickly moved to take up the budget resolution on a party-line vote of 50-49 following passage of the infrastructure deal. The upper chamber is already eating into its planned August recess, and Democratic leaders hope to pass the budget resolution before leaving town for the month.