White House promises $4.6 billion for Kentucky highways in infrastructure bill

·3 min read

As the U.S Senate continues debate over $550 billion in new infrastructure spending, the White House is highlighting how the Republican leader’s home state would benefit.

Kentucky would receive at least $4.6 billion for highways and $438 million for bridge replacements, according to a White House document shared with McClatchy.

Additionally, the commonwealth would get $391 million to “improve public transportation options,” $100 million for broadband internet coverage and $69 million to expand its electric vehicle charging network.

Mitch McConnell, who supported proceeding with President Joe Biden’s legislative initiative, said Tuesday he’s “in favor of trying to get an outcome,” an indication he is more likely than not to support final passage of the generational investment in rebuilding the country.

But he’s warned Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer against rushing toward a final vote without allowing considerable time for GOP amendments.

On Tuesday, Rand Paul was the lone senator to vote against an amendment to form a working group to address workforce needs in the telecommunications sector and help facilitate the employment of military members transitioning back into civilian life. He also was one of seven to oppose the expansion of funding for Indian health care facilities.

Though Paul seems unlikely to favor final passage of the bill, his spokeswoman notes that he’s regularly introduced legislation that would redirect 1% of non-infrastructure spending to domestic projects. He has also pushed for cutting foreign aid by 10% to free up funds to be redirected back to U.S. taxpayers.

The Senate is expected to continue debating amendments through Wednesday and into Thursday. Schumer has said he wants to hold a final vote on the legislation this week.

Organizers of the Fancy Farm picnic in far Western Kentucky, which has been one of the state’s marquee political speaking events for decades, announced Wednesday afternoon that McConnell and Paul would not be able to attend this Saturday because of work on the infrastructure bill.

The White House notes that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Kentucky a C- grade on its 2019 infrastructure report card. That report awarded Kentucky the grade of a D for its roads, dams, levees and hazardous waste management.

Most of the spending included in the infrastructure package would be dispensed over five years. The White House notes that Kentucky can compete for additional money for bridge investments, noting that more than 1,000 bridges in the state are in “poor condition.”

About 227,000 Kentuckians lack broadband coverage and the White House claims that a third of them will be eligible for a benefit that will help low-income families afford internet access.

The release of the Kentucky figures comes amid a broader push this week from the White House to promote the bipartisan infrastructure package, which needs the votes of 10 Republican senators to avoid a legislative process known as the filibuster.

The administration has dispatched members of Biden’s Cabinet, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, across the country this week to sell the bill. Other liberal groups allied with the White House have also begun spending millions of dollars in ads promoting the bill.

Passage of the legislation is a key priority for Biden, who has spent months negotiating with GOP lawmakers over its provisions in an attempt to show that bipartisan deal-making is still possible in Washington.

The president is simultaneously trying to pass a larger, multi-trillion-dollar spending package with only Democratic votes, through a budgetary process known as reconciliation. That package is expected to include huge sums of money earmarked to combat climate change and boost child care subsidies, though lawmakers are still negotiating the exact size and contents of the legislation.

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