Its location in the center of the U.S. and unparalleled network of highways, railroads and airports will make it a major beneficiary of the $1.2 trillion measure.
There’s a lot to like in the enormous physical infrastructure bill the U.S. House finally approved late Friday night. Because Illinois is the transportation hub of the United States, it stands to become a major beneficiary of the $1.2 trillion in federal spending.
The biggest investment in the bill will be toward roads, bridges and major projects. According to the Biden administration, it will be the greatest investment in bridges since the interstate highway system was established in 1956. Billions more in funding will be directed toward public transit, Amtrak and freight railways; airports; high-speed internet; clean drinking water; and electric power lines.
Over the next five years, Illinois is expected to come away with more than $17 billion in projects, including about $10 billion for highways, $1.4 billion for bridge replacements, $1.7 billion for wastewater and drinking water programs, and hundreds of millions for electric-vehicle charging stations, improved broadband coverage and airport work.
These are projects that benefit all of Illinois, upstate and downstate, poor and rich, individuals and corporate giants. They’ll also provide more jobs for people in construction trades and in transportation and information technology.
Although Democrats have tried to claim that the infrastructure spending will pay for itself, a Congressional Budget Office analysis concluded it would add about $256 billion to the budget deficit over the next 10 years. That’s a lot of money, but not nearly as much as the $1.9 trillion added to the deficit by the 2017 Republican tax cut and its narrow band of beneficiaries.
Republican members of Congress, for the most part, did not back the infrastructure spending, although they and their districts will benefit. Only 13 GOP lawmakers voted for the measure, including retiring U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who was criticized by the more Trumpist members of his caucus.
Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland, said the legislation was part of a “$5 trillion socialist takeover of our country,” and her ally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tweeted that Republicans who supported the spending “handed over their voting cards” to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass Biden’s “communist takeover of America via so-called infrastructure.”
A student of history, Kinzinger sagaciously tweeted in response, “Infrastructure = communism is a new one. Eisenhower’s interstate system should be torn up or else the commies will be able to conveniently drive!”
Equally disappointing was the response of Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville — the ranking Republican on the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee — who voted no on the legislation and falsely claimed that it was paired with another infrastructure bill.
“I’m beyond disappointed that President Biden and Democrats in Congress paired bipartisan infrastructure investment to their reckless, multi-trillion-dollar, tax-and-spending proposal,” said Davis.
Davis could have voted for the physical infrastructure bill — as other Republicans did — without voting for the separate social-safety-net and climate-change bill that Democrats hope to pass later this month. Further, Davis last summer asked that about $23 million in “member-directed spending” or earmarks for his district be included in the infrastructure bill.
Congress’ history is full of hypocrisy, and last week’s voting on the infrastructure bill is another example.