Florida Senators Voted Against Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. But What Would It Bring To The State?
The bill, if passed by the House of Representatives, would pump billions of dollars of infrastructure dollars into the state. Here's a quick look at the projects involved.
The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill Tuesday, after years of political bickering stalled similar actions in Congress.
The move marks a pivotal moment for President Joe Biden, as a signature bipartisan effort to enact his Build Back Better economic plan. In total, nineteen Republicans — including minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — voted for the package that includes more than half a trillion dollars in new infrastructure spending.
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Both Republican senators from Florida, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, voted against the measure.
Yet the bill, if passed by the House of Representatives, would pump billions of dollars of infrastructure dollars into the state. According to the Miami Herald, an estimated $13 billion would go towards Florida highway projects, $2.6 billion would go towards public transportation projects, $198 million towards expanding a network of electric vehicle charging stations across the state and $100 million would be put towards expanding broadband access, mostly in rural areas of the state.
A laundry list of hyperlocal projects would also be supported by the bill, from the Florida Panhandle to the Florida Keys. The total investment in these projects, according to the bill that passed, would be $288 million.
WLRN gathered the long list of projects in a publicly available spreadsheet you can find by clicking here.
Many South Florida infrastructure projects are specifically written into the bill, including $2 million for a program that would bring on-shore power to cruise ships at PortMiami. The project is expected to dramatically reduce fossil fuel emissions at PortMiami and is expected to be completed by Fall 2023.
More than $9 million would go towards buying new buses as part of Miami-Dade County’s SMART transportation plan. A pedestrian bridge in South Miami would get $4.3 million. A streetscape project for Breakers Avenue in Fort Lauderdale would receive $5.2 million.
Also included is nearly $3 million to replace the Johnson Street Bridge in Hollywood, and $8.3 million to build shelters for bus riders in Palm Beach County.
In the Florida Keys, more than $4 million would go to kickstarting plans to replace the Card Sound Bridge in Key Largo.
The full infrastructure bill is viewable here. Note: It is more than 2,000 pages long.
In voting against the bill, both Sens. Rubio and Scott said the bill was supposed to pay for itself and not add to the national debt. The bipartisan group of senators who negotiated the package aimed to do this, but an independent assessment from the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan part of Congress that provides economic analysis to lawmakers, estimated the bill would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade.
That was enough to convince both Florida senators to vote against it, they said.
“I support investing in roads, bridges, broadband, and efforts to mitigate against sea level rise, and I hoped there would be a bill I could vote for,” said Rubio in a statement. “But this bill was negotiated in secret, rushed through the process without meaningful opportunities to have input, and adds a net increase ... to the national debt. I can’t vote for a bill like that.”
Sen. Scott added in a statement released last week: “We were promised this infrastructure bill was fully paid for, and now we see that it’s not.”
On Twitter, President Biden hailed the bipartisan passage of the bill as a major victory not just for his administration, but for his contention that bipartisan action is still possible in a deeply polarized nation.
“We proved our democracy can still work,” he wrote on Twitter. “We’re going to create millions of good-paying jobs, grow the economy, and transform our nation’s infrastructure.”
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where it faces a contentious future.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, has stated she will not bring the bipartisan bill to a vote until the Senate passes a $3.5 trillion bill aimed at tackling climate change and beefing up social programs, likely raising taxes for some Americans in the process. That bill forms another pillar of Biden’s broad economic plans.
No Republican votes would be needed to pass that bill, under a process known as budget reconciliation. Republicans are expected to be unanimously opposed to the second bill.