A $ 1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package passed by Congress last week will secure Idaho more than $ 2.5 billion over the next five years to upgrade roads, bridges, pipelines, as well as the state’s broadband network and transit system.
The legislation is only waiting for President Joe Biden’s signature to give the green light to what was a key campaign promise and a focal point on the Democratic administration’s economic agenda during his first year in office. Proponents are calling the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act a generational infusion of funds into the country’s deteriorating infrastructure after years of deferred maintenance – the largest such expense in decades.
“Tonight we have taken a monumental step forward as a nation,” Biden said in a statement after the bill was passed by the United States House. “Generations from now people will look back and know that was when America won the economic competition of the 21st century.”
How Idaho congressional delegates voted on the infrastructure package
The bill passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support, with the House supporting it by 228 votes to 206, including 13 Republicans – securing a victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California. The Senate had already passed it in August with a bipartisan 69-30 vote, including the two Idaho Republicans, American senses Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.
“The bipartisan legislation we passed today invests in traditional, hard-core infrastructure projects to help keep pace with Idaho’s rapid growth,” Crapo said in an August statement, highlighting the benefits direct to the state of Gem.
U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, both voted against the infrastructure bill.
As recently as June, Simpson signaled possible support for the bill and negotiated to include five Idaho bills that totaled nearly $ 17 million in the bill. Fulcher did not continue with the federal appropriation process.
“I strongly support investment in our country’s infrastructure needs and have said for years that the country has long awaited a major investment in our crumbling roads and bridges,” said Simpson. said in a press release. “The past few months have sadly revealed that this bill is just a political carrot aimed at uniting the left to push Biden / Pelosi’s socialist wish list down to billions of dollars.”
In the end, Simpson and Fulcher both raised concerns about the Democratic-controlled government’s lack of collaboration with House Republicans and contempt for the $ 1.75 trillion social spending bill. Democrat dollars. Democratic leaders initially intended to vote on both packages at once.
“The outrageous spending while we face historic debt and deficits is enough to lose my support,” Fulcher said. said in a press release. “This infrastructure bill is a bargaining chip, paving the way for the subsequent passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which is the government’s biggest expansion in history. our country.”
The package includes investments in state public transport, electric vehicles
Of the five Idaho-specific projects, $ 2 million is for improvements along Valley Regional Transit’s State Street bus line. In addition to contributions from Boise and other cities, the funds will be used to build passenger shelters and bus pull-outs, and install real-time electronic information on routes at stops along the way. 11 mile stretch.
“The VRT is very happy to see the infrastructure bill passed,” Kelli Badesheim, executive director of Valley Regional Transit, said in a statement to the Idaho Statesman. “We have also worked closely with local jurisdiction partners to secure the necessary correspondence to activate these funds to meet the transit needs of our region.”
Based on a disbursement formula, the country’s transit service providers are also forecasting an average 43% increase in funds for operations and capital needs through federal programs, she said. declared.
The other four Idaho projects for which Simpson helped secure funds include road and bridge improvements in Ammon, Fort Hall, McCammon and Pocatello. Ammon will receive approximately $ 5.4 million for the widening and complete reconstruction of the 1-mile segment of First Street, while Pocatello will see $ 4.3 million to build a pedestrian bridge over Center Street, including repairing sidewalks, retaining walls and stormwater drainage.
Matt Stoll, executive director of COMPASS, the region’s transport planning agency, also applauded the adoption of the federal infrastructure package. He said the bill provides the agency with some funding security for the budget for years to come, as well as competition for national grants to fund priority projects.
“Passing the five-year bill will allow us to budget and plan through fiscal 2026 with some certainty of funding levels,” he told the Statesman via email.
The bill also designated billions of dollars to counter the adverse effects of forest fires in the country, as well as funds to combat the effects of climate change.
In addition, Idaho is expected to receive $ 30 million for the expansion of the state’s electric vehicle charging network, an effort to reduce emissions from automobiles. Vehicles account for the largest percentage of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Thanking Crapo and Risch for supporting the bill, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said the five-year federal investment in infrastructure, with exceptions for climate action, will help the city meet its ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
“While this future law helps us connect and protect our open spaces, our air and our water, it also helps create more sustainable jobs now and in the future,” McLean said in a statement to the Statesman. “This has been one of my goals since taking office, and I am encouraged that the bipartite infrastructure agreement will help us create a resilient and green economy.”