The thumbs down on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act from Idaho Congressmen Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher prioritized politics over people.
If America were a house, it could only be described as a fixer-upper. Simpson and Fulcher voted not to fix the holes in the roof or the crumbling foundation.
Instead, they used their votes to bolster their credibility with extreme Republicans who would block bipartisan agreement at any cost. In spite of them, the bill headed to President Biden’s desk will help Idahoans.
Idaho’s entirely Republican delegation is of two minds about the act. In a tweeted statement, Simpson called the bill a “spending and tax spree” by Democrats even though the bill covers its costs with unspent COVID-19 relief funds, unspent unemployment insurance funds, petroleum reserve sales and spectrum auctions for 5G wireless communication services
Fulcher tweeted that he opposed the bill because it was a “bargaining chip” for later passage of Biden’s social infrastructure bill known as the Build Back Better Act, which is still up in the air.
Their objections were thin excuses for rejecting bipartisanship. Just 13 House Republicans supported the act.
The tweets contrasted with Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s statement after he and Sen. Jim Risch voted in favor of the act, which passed the Senate in August. Crapo said the bill that invests in traditional, hard infrastructure would help the state keep pace with rapid growth and not raise taxes.
If Simpson and Fulcher had prevailed, Idaho would lack billions of dollars that can be used to repair its deteriorating infrastructure.
Crapo’s office listed the following benefits of the act for Idaho:
- $1.9 billion to construct, rebuild and maintain roads and highways.
- $213 million for drinking water and wastewater, water storage, groundwater and conveyance projects.
- $225 million for bridge construction, maintenance and repair.
- $25 billion nationwide for additional airport improvement projects.
- $3.3 billion for Idaho and other states for wildland firefighting and $5.75 billion nationwide for natural resources infrastructure, including fire management and reduction.
- $100 million for broadband expansion.
- Three-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program.
- Infrastructure planning for small modular reactors and micro reactors and a civil nuclear grant program.
- Reform of the permitting process to speed construction projects
Nationally, the bill also includes money for electric buses, electric vehicle charging stations and updates of the electric grid.
The benefits are not wild-eyed budget busters. They are practical remedies for years of neglect. They will help America catch up to global tech competitors, ensure energy security and begin the battle against climate change.
Against all reason, Simpson and Fulcher pitifully pandered to people who would leave Idaho and the nation in tatters.
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