Senate sends bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package to House

Nevada would receive $2.5 billion for highways, $225 million to repair and replace bridges and $462 million for transit under the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the U.S. Senate Tuesday, according to a White House analysis of the spending

The bill, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed 69 to 30, with 19 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats. 

That vote echoed the tally of the vote Sunday night to limit debate, which was approved 68 to 29, easily clearing the 60 vote threshold to bring the measure to a final vote.

Both Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), one of the 22 senators—11 Democrats and 11 Republicans—who drafted the bill, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) praised the measure.

“I’m proud to see that our bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has passed the United States Senate,” Rosen said in a release. “This comprehensive and critical legislation will allow us to make historic investments in our communities through infrastructure."

Cortez Masto said that the measure "will create good union jobs all across Nevada by making historic investments in Nevada’s economy - from transportation and infrastructure to broadband."

But the bill is getting mixed reviews in the U.S. House, which underscores the challenge for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). She can lose no more than three Democrats and still pass the legislation if all Republicans vote no.  

For example, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) signed a letter Monday that took issue with $7.5 billion for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the package and instead called for $85 billion. The letter argued that the move would create jobs and help reduce carbon pollution.

“By making an $85 billion investment in zero-emission charging infrastructure that will last decades, we can employ tens of thousands of Americans, all while supporting the massive adoption of clean transportation options,” the letter said.

Progressives—including Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee—have also raised concerns about the policies in the bill, including that they don’t do enough to address climate change. DeFazio also signed the letter.

Meanwhile, Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), a member of the bipartisan group known as the Problem Solvers Caucus, has praised the measure because it follows the contours of a proposal the Problem Solvers released in June.

“We were ground zero for the pandemic,” Lee said at a press conference earlier this month in support of the bill. “We are ground zero for the effects of climate change dealing with the megadrought in the West. But most importantly we are ground zero for the economic opportunity in this bill.”

Other funding for the state includes $38 million over five years to expand Nevada’s EV charging network. The state could also apply for up to $2.5 billion in EV charging grant funds provided in the bill.

For broadband, Nevada would receive at least $100 million to help improve and expand broadband coverage for the roughly 123,822 residents who lack internet access at broadband speed, according to the White House’s count.

The measure also includes the Affordability Connectivity Benefit provision to help low-income families afford internet access. The White House estimates that 825,000 people,  or 26 percent of Nevadans, will be eligible for the benefit. 

Overall, the legislation would provide $$550 billion in new funds, with the remainder coming from previously appropriated pandemic relief. The $550 billion includes $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $39 billion for transit and $25 billion for airports. The plan would also provide $65 billion for broadband and $7.5 billion for electric EV infrastructure.

Following passage of the bill, the Senate will take up the budget resolution, which will require relevant congressional committees to draft a $3.5 trillion measure full of Democratic priorities that Republicans oppose. 

The draft of the Senate resolution, released Monday, includes provisions for universal Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds; free community college for two years; funding for drought, wildfire, and Interior Department investments; green cards for millions of immigrant workers and families and border security technology.

The budget process, known as reconciliation, allows the Senate to pass the package on a simple majority vote. 

Pelosi has said she would not vote on the bipartisan bill until the Senate approves the reconciliation measure. Making the bills contingent on one another could help her win the requisite votes to pass both packages.