Your Community. Your Newspaper.

By JIM ECKSTROM

Thirteen Republicans in the U.S. House helped provide the margin to get the Democrats’ $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed late Nov. 5 — Reps. Glenn Thompson and Fred Keller weren’t among them.

Thompson, of Centre County, voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act because Democrats have linked it to a spending bill that is “full of budget gimmicks and will cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars.”

Thompson said “there was an opportunity to come together and draft a bipartisan, bicameral bill to address America’s aging infrastructure,” but Democrats will continue to pursue greater social spending.

“To add insult to injury, the bill fails to adequately address one of the most critical infrastructure needs, broadband connectivity,” Thompson said. “This is completely unacceptable and further reflects how out of touch (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.) is with the concerns of everyday American families.”

Keller, the Snyder County Republican whose congressional district includes Potter County, said he voted no on “Speaker Pelosi’s infrastructure bill” because it piles debt on future generations more than it does to fix roads, bridges and critical infrastructure.

“Less than half of this bill goes towards traditional infrastructure,” Keller said. “Worse, it paves the way for Washington Democrats’ reconciliation package that includes socialist priorities like a natural gas tax, mass amnesty for illegal aliens, Green New Deal mandates and 87,000 new IRS agents to spy on your bank accounts.”

He noted that the vote happened “in the cover of darkness while the American people were sleeping. Big government spending is out of control.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, the Republican from Corning, N.Y., whose district includes Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, voted in favor of the bill. Reed will not seek re-election in 2022 because of a sexual harassment scandal that came to light in March.

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, of Bucks County, was the only Republican from Pennsylvania to vote for the bill.
Six progressive Democrats also voted against the bill, unhappy that many of their demands for social spending have been pared from President Joe Biden’s and the Democrats’ overall agenda. The bill would have failed had not the 13 Republicans voted yes.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. senator, Bob Casey, hailed passage of the bill in the House after the U.S. Senate had already approved the infrastructure package.

“The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act is the single-largest investment in our Nation’s infrastructure in generations,” Casey said in a series of tweets. “Pennsylvania alone will see $11.3 billion for roads, $1.6 billion for bridges, $2.8 billion for public transit and more.

“Like President Biden, I believe taking decisive action on climate change will create millions of good-paying jobs, restore the health of our communities and cement the United States’ global leadership in clean energy technology,” Casey continued. “That starts with the passage of the BuildBackBetter Act so we can spur new energy technologies while boosting the competitiveness of existing industries like steel, cement and aluminum. It puts us on the path to a prosperous, net-zero future.”