NJ Republicans save Biden’s infrastructure bill, draw MAGA fire

On Saturday, New Jersey’s only two Republican members of Congress helped save President Joe Biden’s $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan, only to anger staunch Trump supporters and conservative activists across the board. the country.

United States Representatives Chris Smith, RN.J. 4th arrondissement, and Jeff Van Drew, RN.J. 2nd arrondissement, were among the 13 Republicans to pass the bill by 228-206. Conversely, the bill encountered opposition from six of the most progressive Democrats who wanted infrastructure spending to be linked to a more comprehensive social and environmental package.

Biden called the passage of the bill a “monumental step forward for the nation” and said the investment would ultimately be considered “when America decided to win the 21st century competition” with China.

But conservative activists have called Republicans “traitors,” promising to challenge them in their primary races next year. Smith has been called “RINO,” Van Drew, who switched parties to support then-President Donald Trump for re-election, was called “quiling” by a prominent tweet on Twitter.

The most caustic rhetoric, including from sitting members of Congress, included characterizing the bill – which would spend billions to improve New Jersey highways and rail routes and expand high-speed internet access. in rural areas – like a communist or socialist plot.

“On Tuesday the American people rejected the Democratic platform and on Friday Republican traitors joined forces with Nancy Pelosi to pass Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America,” tweeted the US representative from Georgia. , Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was stripped of her committee assignments by Republicans who found her too extreme.

“Pelosi didn’t have the votes in his party to pass this garbage,” Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert said on Twitter. “It’s time to name names and hold these bogus Republicans (sic) accountable.”

Van Drew pushed the criticism package on Sunday, outlining his opposition to the president’s broader agenda.

“I have already VOTED AGAINST, spoke AGAINST and will continue to OPPOSE President Biden’s ‘Build Better’ reconciliation bill regardless of the final price,” Van Drew’s statement said. .

What I voted for last night was a bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed with broad Republican and Democratic support in the United States Senate and the overwhelming majority of which was REAUTHORIZATION of all transportation projects. EXISTING Federally Funded Across The Country. I also voted to invest an additional $ 550 billion in our countries’ roads, bridges, dams, airports, seaports and transit systems as well as to secure our vulnerable power grid, replace our systems. drinking water and expand broadband Internet access, especially in rural areas.

Gov. Phil Murphy, fresh out of a closed-door election, hailed the passage of the bill.

“The bipartisan infrastructure bill provides billions of dollars to the Gateway program, the largest critical infrastructure project in the United States, giving commuters the relief they deserve,” Murphy said on Saturday.

“This legislation also includes significant funding for the expansion of broadband Internet, addressing a key issue that is impacting underserved areas of New Jersey and will be a game-changer for those who reside there. I congratulate the President and our congressional delegation for this step forward for all New Jersey residents.

What’s in the invoice? Roads and bridges

The bill would provide $ 110 billion to repair the country’s aging highways, bridges and roads. According to the White House, 173,000 total miles or nearly 280,000 kilometers of US freeways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. And the nearly $ 40 billion for bridges is the biggest investment dedicated to bridges since the construction of the national highway system, according to the Biden administration.

What’s in the invoice? Public transport

The $ 39 billion for public transit in legislation would expand transportation systems, improve accessibility for people with disabilities, and provide dollars to state and local governments to purchase zero-emission, low-emission buses. The Department of Transportation estimates that the current repair backlog is over 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations and thousands of kilometers of track and electrical systems.

What’s in the invoice? Passengers, rail freight

To reduce Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, which has worsened since Storm Sandy nine years ago, the bill would provide $ 66 billion to improve the northeast rail service corridor (457 miles, 735 km), as well as other routes. That’s less than the $ 80 billion Biden – who drove Amtrak from Delaware to Washington during his time in the Senate – originally claimed, but it would be the biggest federal investment in passenger rail service since inception. from Amtrak 50 years ago.

What’s in the invoice? Electric vehicles

The bill would spend $ 7.5 billion on electric vehicle charging stations, which the administration says are key to accelerating the use of electric vehicles to fight climate change. It would also provide $ 5 billion for the purchase of electric and hybrid school buses, reducing reliance on diesel-powered school buses.

What’s in the invoice? Internet access

The $ 65 billion in broadband legislation would aim to improve Internet services for rural areas, low-income families and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through state grants.

What’s in the invoice? Modernize the electricity network

To guard against the power outages that have become more frequent in recent years, the bill would spend $ 65 billion to improve the reliability and resiliency of the power grid. It would also boost carbon capture technologies and more environmentally friendly sources of electricity like clean hydrogen.

What’s in the invoice? Airports

The bill would spend $ 25 billion to improve runways, gates and taxiways at airports and to improve terminals. It would also improve aging air traffic control towers.

What’s in the invoice? The water

The bill would spend $ 55 billion on water and sanitation infrastructure. It has $ 15 billion to replace lead pipes and $ 10 billion to combat water contamination with polyfluoroalkyl substances – chemicals that have been used in the production of Teflon and have also been used. in fire fighting foam, water repellent clothing and many other items.

The five-year spending program would be paid for using $ 210 billion in unspent COVID-19 emergency aid and $ 53 billion in UI assistance that some states have halted, as well as a range of small pots of money, such as sales of oil reserves and spectrum auctions for 5G services.

And after?

The infrastructure measure cleared the Senate in August with bipartisan support.

As for the social and environmental package, passing the House would send it to the Senate, where it faces some changes and more Democratic drama. It is mainly because of the demands of Sense. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to contain the costs of the measure.

The moderates forced executives to reduce the measure from about 2,100 pages to about half of its original size of $ 3.5 trillion. Republicans oppose it because it is too costly and damaging to the economy.

The package would provide large numbers of Americans with help paying for health care, raising children, and caring for the elderly in their homes. It receives tax breaks of $ 555 billion for cleaner energy and electric vehicles. Democrats have added recent provisions reinstating a new paid family leave program and work permits for millions of immigrants.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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