Senate passage of the infrastructure bill by a decisive margin is good news for Delaware.
A dozen and a half Republicans voted for the bill, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. The measure is popular with Americans, with seven in ten favoring at least some of its provisions. Support is equally strong within the business community.
Despite the advertised $1.2 trillion price when all is said and done, new spending amounts to more than half a billion dollars, not a budget-busting figure in this day and age.
President Joe Biden – helicoptering back from Delaware to the White House yesterday – took a victory lap to mark a badly needed win.
The legislation faces a bumpy road in the House, where a combination of Republicans and progressive Democrats are less than enthused.
There is also the issue of the $3.5 billion budget reconciliation bill, which has its share of “soft infrastructure” plans and passed the Senate on a party line vote.
Progressive feathers are ruffed by the lack of so-called “soft infrastructure” measures that include aid for caregivers, more job training, and sweeping “Green New Deal” climate provisions. Republicans in the House post-Trump now see all virtually all spending measures as budget busters.
The House, now on its lengthy August break, is in no hurry to consider the bill.
It will take some time to assess the impact of the bill on Delaware.
But a few things are apparent. Amtrak, which has 1,000 employees in northern Delaware, is a big winner, even with its wish list pared down during negotiations.
The government-owned passenger railroad finally seems poised to deal with century-old bridges and tunnels on the Northeast corridor. Let’s hope some of that money helps modernize the railroad’s ancient Wilmington maintenance facilities.
You will see some grumbling over money going to lightly traveled passenger rail routes in the nation’s “empty quarter.” That’s a reflection of a Senate where Montana and Idaho have the same number of votes as New York.
Delaware will also benefit from water system improvements, a more robust electric grid, and highway funding.
Delaware’s highway needs remain daunting, even if it seems that every road is under construction this summer. For example, the Wilmington I-95 reconstruction is but one step in dealing with decades of overall neglect within the interstate system.
Also, massive projects like the Route 301 toll road around rapidly growing Middletown do nothing to address the increasingly severe congestion brought on by rapid and largely runaway growth in Coastal Sussex County.
Still, the bill is a step forward and shows there is hope for the bipartisanship that Biden used as his key talking point during a successful presidential campaign. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.