‘Infrastructure week is finally here’ in Minnesota, led by $4.5 billion for roads

By Ricardo Lopez, Minnesota Reformer — Nov 9, 2021

U.S. Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips on Tuesday touted the billions in dollars coming to Minnesota as part of the just-passed legislation.

Craig and Phillips appeared in St. Paul to promote the package they voted for along with U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, the only three of Minnesota’s eight U.S. representatives to vote for President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package.

Minnesota will receive more than $4.5 billion for highways. Other infrastructure projects, including broadband, water, and cybersecurity, will receive hundreds of millions of dollars.

Craig, who represents the Second Congressional District, and Phillips, who represents the Third District, said the package will help upgrade the country’s deteriorating infrastructure. Craig highlighted the $100 million for high-speed broadband internet expansion in rural areas.

“These billions of dollars coming to Minnesota will be deployed across the entire state,” Phillips said.

“Minnesota, infrastructure week is finally here,” Craig said.

Most House Republicans, and a few progressives, rejected the bill, but for different reasons. Republicans, including all four Minnesota GOP congressional members, attacked the bill, saying it would raise taxes and increase deficit spending, according to statements from U.S. Reps. Jim Hagedorn, Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber.

“It saddens me that we didn’t see a yes vote from every single member of Congress,” Phillips said, adding that “there is no greater common cause than infrastructure.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Minneapolis progressive, said she voted against the bill because House Democratic leadership moved ahead on a vote on the infrastructure without also voting on the so-called Build Back Better Act, Biden’s social safety net and climate change legislation that is still being negotiated.

Craig also criticized her GOP colleagues and the Democratic lawmakers who voted against the bill.

“I’m disappointed with all five members of the Minnesota delegation who voted against this bill,” she said. “Our Republican colleagues voted against it because they don’t want to give Democrats a win…I’m disappointed with my Democratic colleague who voted against this bill, as well. I believe that was due to politics, and we’ll leave it at that.

Omar on Friday said in a statement: “Passing the infrastructure bill without passing the Build Back Better Act first risks leaving behind child care, paid leave, health care, climate action, housing, education, and a road map to citizenship.

Phillips and Craig noted that the package includes funding to improve climate resiliency for roads, as well as money to create more charging stations for electric vehicles.

Craig said the Build Back Better Act currently being negotiated would “complete” some of the policies addressing climate change in the infrastructure legislation.

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