WASHINGTON – Thirteen House Republicans bucked party leaders and helped push through the bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier this month.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., one of the House Republicans who voted for the bill and received threats, told USA TODAY there was no question he’d vote for the measure as it was “years overdue.”
The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act aims to update the nation’s crumbling infrastructure by modernizing highways, rebuilding water lines and building electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S. It’s the largest transportation spending package in U.S. history.
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Despite pressure to vote against it in the House, the 13 Republicans pointed to projects in their districts or the money their states would receive for upgrading roads and railways, when asked by USA TODAY why they voted for the bill.
“We haven’t seen a major infrastructure bill passed in years,” said Upton, who called the bill “truly infrastructure.”
President Joe Biden signed the bill Monday in an Oval Office ceremony attended by several of the House Republicans who supported the bill and also a number of the 19 Republican senators who voted for the legislation when it passed that chamber in August.
Though all the money has yet to be allocated to states and districts, here’s how the House Republicans expect the money to be used in their states and districts.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., said the bill provides $27 billion a year to cover infrastructure improvements in her state. She pointed to century-old water mains, bridges and subway lines among the systems in need of repair.
Those funds could trickle down to her district, which covers the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
“For far too long, our local, state, and federal leaders have neglected to modernize New York City’s aging infrastructure to keep pace with economic and population growth,” she said in a prepared statement.
The infrastructure bill could jumpstart several projects that benefit her district, Malliotakis said.
It includes $1.25 billion for passenger ferry grants, and Malliotakis said funding could be used “for new fast ferry lines connecting the city’s five boroughs.”
Outdated subway signals and a high-occupancy vehicle lane on the Staten Island Expressway also could be in line for funding. New York is in line to get $11.6 billion for highways and $9.8 billion for public transportation upgrades a year, she said.
Coastal neighborhoods also could be protected from natural disasters with seawalls and sewer upgrades, she said.
“Simply put, it’s this type of investment that will not only save city residents’ time and money, but also their properties and lives,” she said.
Rep. Fred Upton
Upton told USA TODAY he would like to see the funds help replace lead water pipes in Benton Harbor, which is in his district that encompasses much of southwest Michigan.
Benton Harbor’s drinking water has tested for lead levels above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion ever since 2018. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the community’s water system has received 167 violations of water safety regulations since 2018, with 145 of those considered major violations.
There is “$15 billion to replace lead service lines,” across the nation, Upton noted. He stressed the importance of investing in “water infrastructure” in his district, state, and around the country.
“People remember Flint,” he continued, noting the Michigan city that suffered from lead-contaminated water. “Every community deserves clean water.”
Upton also hoped the infrastructure bill could help current supply chain issues rippling across the nation.
“It’s important we look at the infrastructure needs of getting goods to market,” he said. “This ought to help that, whether it’s expanding our ports, dredging our rivers, improving rail transportation and our airports. It addresses real infrastructure needs that haven’t been met in years.”
Rep. David McKinley
Shortly after the vote, Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., said in a prepared statement that he had “put America and West Virginia first” by voting for the bill rather than “playing politics.”
“America’s infrastructure has been in dire need of modernization and this bipartisan infrastructure bill is what community leaders from one panhandle to the other have expressed that West Virginia needs to restore our aging infrastructure,” he said.
McKinley’s district is in the northern part of the state and includes cities like Morgantown, home to West Virginia University.
He touted billions of dollars that would flow to his state as a result of the bill, including more than $3 billion for roads and bridges.
The bill also sets aside $1.25 billion for the Appalachian Development Highway System, a network of highway corridors stretching across 13 states, including West Virginia.
Construction began on part of that highway system to link I-79 to I-81 in West Virginia in the 1970s, but portions of the “Corridor H” highway remain incomplete. McKinley said the bill includes $195 million “to complete projects like corridor H.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., touted the legislation in a prepared statement after the vote, saying it “contains significant investments for roads, bridges, rails, seaports, airports, and inland waterways—core infrastructure most Americans agree are in need of improvement.”
The congressman has famously bucked his party’s leadership on a slew of issues, like voting to impeach former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and now participating in the House committee’s investigation of that day.
Kinzinger, who recently announced he would not seek reelection, pointed to the bill’s “investment into broadband and billions more into nuclear energy programs,” which he said “are uniquely important to the 16th District of Illinois.”
The legislation would grant $21.5 billion towards nuclear energy.
The infrastructure bill would devote $65 billion to expanding broadband internet. There are vast differences in calculating how many Americans lack broadband. Estimates range from 19 million to 120 million based on how the count is conducted.
Kinzinger’s district, which lies near the suburbs of Chicago, has many rural areas, where the need for upgraded broadband is greater.
Rep. Don Bacon
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., defended his vote for the infrastructure bill by saying 70% of his district supported it.
“Frankly the R should have taken credit for this bill. We’re the party of infrastructure…This is our opportunity to reclaim this as our issue. I was not happy that we did not do it. We should have done it.,” Bacon said during a radio interview with KFAB days after the vote.
The bill included about $2.5 billion for Nebraska road and highway repairs and $216 million for water infrastructure in the state, according to information provided in August by the office of Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.
“I thought it was good for the district and good for America,” Bacon said during the radio interview. His district encompasses the core of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, was quiet about his vote. He did not issue a public statement.
Gonzalez, who voted for Trump’s impeachment after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, is also not running for reelection.
His state is still in line for billions of dollars in upgrades from the bill. It allocates about $10 billion in highway funding alone to the Buckeye State, according to Sen. Rob Portman, a fellow Ohioan who helped get the bill through the Senate.
The state also will be eligible for grant funding to replace the Brent Spence Bridge, which spans the Ohio River between Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati in the opposite corner of the state from Gonzalez’s district.
Portman’s office said the Brent Spence would be eligible for a $12.5 billion grant pool for bridges, among other funding opportunities.
The state also will receive $1.4 billion for water projects.
Rep. Don Young
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said he did not like what he saw when he looked at the nation’s roads, bridges and ports. In Alaska, the infrastructure needs are unlike any other state, he said.
“Our unique, often harsh terrain means we have very different infrastructure needs than the Lower 48,” he said in a prepared statement. “I am very pleased by the historic investments this legislation makes in Alaska.”
Among other provisions, Alaska will receive $3.5 billion over five years to maintain and build new roads and highways, Young said.
The state also stands to be a big beneficiary of funds set aside for ferries. It includes $1 billion for ferry service in rural Alaska and $73 million to build new ferries, according to Young’s office.
Another $250 million would be used to build harbors that help rural communities without road access to obtain food, fuel, medical supplies and other necessities, he said.
Alaska’s two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, also voted for the infrastructure bill.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., is co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that helped craft the infrastructure legislation earlier this year.
In a prepared statement, he said the nation’s infrastructure has deteriorated too much and could not be left in disrepair.
“The federal government has created the crisis of deteriorating roads, defunct bridges, and vulnerable dams and levees through its inaction,” he said. “These types of arteries are the lifeblood of American commerce and must be improved. America’s infrastructure has reached a breaking point, and this is a challenge we can no longer ignore.”
Fitzpatrick did not specify how much funding would go to his district or his state. His district includes the southeast corner of Pennsylvania.
After the vote, he recirculated a tweet from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority that serves the Philadelphia area, touting the bill’s provisions for upgrading trollies and replacing its rail fleet.
Pennsylvania also should expect at least $11.3 billion for roads and highways and $1.6 billion to replace aging bridges over five years, according to the White House. Another $2.8 billion will go to public transportation in Pennsylvania.
Rep. Tom Reed
After the House passed the bill, Rep. Tom Reed issued a statement saying“This bill is 10 years in the making and it will be beneficial for our area and the country as a whole..”
The New York Republican told The Buffalo News he has received threats for supporting the bipartisan legislation but he told the outlet he has no regrets, saying, “We’re going to see the benefits of it right here in our own backyard.”
He said the legislation will improve roadways in his district – New York’s 23rd – and will bring in jobs.
He also said the Alstom rail manufacturing facility will benefit from additional funding. The city of Hornell, which lies in his district, recently was awarded a grant to fund the Shawmut Industrial Park, where Alstom, a manufacturing company, is preparing to expand and build a new rail car manufacturing facility, according to The Evening Tribune, part of the USA TODAY Network.
That project will allow Alstom to build one of the only U.S.-based manufactured rail car shell operations.
Reed also noted to The Buffalo News that broadband investments could help his district, which is predominately rural and shares a border with Pennsylvania.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., released a statement after the vote, calling it “absolutely critical to a strong America and a strong South Jersey.”
He also, according to the Press of Atlantic City, said at least $20 billion would be going to New Jersey. Van Drew’s district is located in South Jersey and includes Atlantic City.
It “includes billions in funding for the Gateway Project to build a new tunnel from New Jersey to New York. That’s in addition to money for New Jersey projects,” Van Drew told the paper. “That’s not a South Jersey project, but one third of all commerce goes through those tunnels.”
The Gateway Project includes both the Portal Bridge – a 110-year-old swing bridge over the Hackensack River that regularly gets stuck and causes congestion for NJ Transit and Amtrak trains along the Northeast Corridor – and two new Hudson river tunnels, according to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office.
Money would also go toward cleaning up the Passaic River, as well as “modernizing and electrifying” Newark Liberty International Airport and the ports in New Jersey and New York.
Rep. John Katko
Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., helped develop the framework for the new legislation.
His office provided USA TODAY with a breakdown of what they expect Central New York to get from the legislation, which includes $24 billion for roads & bridges in New York state, $27 million for Syracuse Hancock International Airport, $8 billion for the Department of Transportation’s Capital Investment Grants Program which could benefit bus transit in Syracuse, among other projects.
His district is located in the central portion of the state and includes Syracuse.
“Recognizing the dire state of our local infrastructure, a key part of that promise was delivering infrastructure investment,” Katko said in a prepared statement.
Contributing: Matt Brown, Ledyard King USA TODAY; Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press; Dustin Racioppi, Trenton Bureau