Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

NM Dems all infrastructure bill

A lone passenger walks through a largely abandoned Albuquerque International Sunport on April 28, 2020. New Mexico airports are receiving $ 90 million under a massive infrastructure bill that is expected to be signed shortly. Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Journal

The Democratic members of the New Mexico congressional delegation are promoting the massive infrastructure bill that cleaned up the House of Representatives last week and that will pour billions of dollars into the state for things like road improvements and water projects.

The Democrats all backed the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will bring New Mexico at least $ 3.7 billion in the coming years.

“The reality is that New Mexico has long been held back by a systemic lack of investment in our infrastructure,” Senator Martin Heinrich said during a Zoom press conference to promote the legislation. “And the pandemic has really exposed the stark realities that too many of our families still don’t have access to clean drinking water, let alone high-speed internet. With the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act we will finally be able to change that. “

Missing from the event was Yvette Herrell, the only Republican member of the state delegation. She voted against the bill, which received bipartisan support. 19 Republicans in the Senate and 13 in the House of Representatives voted in favor.

Herrell said in a statement that the bill offers “little substance”.

“I’m not going to vote for a bill that is full of pet projects, Washington waste, and frivolous spending just to appease die-hard insiders,” she said. “If the Democrats had worked with the Republicans from the start and put forward bill that did what the title intended – better infrastructure and a foundation for future economic growth in New Mexico and all fifty states – I would have considered doing it to support.”

Senator Ben Ray Luján, DN.M., took note of Herrell’s voice during Tuesday’s press conference.

“Only the four of us, the four Democratic members of the New Mexico delegation, voted for this bill,” he said. “Unfortunately, our Republican colleague who represents the Southern District did not see the importance of passing infrastructure laws in order to invest in every corner of our state. One thing I learned from Manuel Lujan and Pete Domenici (Republicans from New Mexico) is that you have to work together. “

New Mexico’s share of the massive spending bill includes:

  • $ 2.5 billion to improve the highway and $ 225 million to replace and repair bridges over a five-year period
  • At least $ 100 million for broadband coverage
  • $ 355 million for water infrastructure projects
  • $ 90 million for airport modernization
  • $ 38 million to expand electric vehicle charging stations
  • $ 38 million to protect against forest fires
  • $ 13 million to protect against cyberattacks

The bill also contains provisions that allow states to apply for additional funding.

It wasn’t exactly clear on Tuesday how such spending will be tracked. Officials said different projects are funded in different ways. For example, states will receive money for broadband expansion projects and distribute the money. However, airport improvement funding is provided directly by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Herrell expressed concerns that the spending package would lead to more inflation and exacerbate supply chain problems.

Paul Gessing, executive director of the Rio Grande Foundation, a libertarian think tank, thanked Herrell on Twitter for voting against the “boondoggle”.

She said on Twitter in response, “The Left Infrastructure Bill was MORE about political unicorns, but I will continue to vote for bills that will actually HELP New Mexico families!”

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the law soon.

“To put it in perspective, this bill puts our infrastructure spending at the level we saw during the New Deal,” said Heinrich.

New Mexico Democratic MPs Melanie Stansbury and Teresa Leger Fernandez also voted for the Infrastructure Bill.

Stansbury, who represents the Albuquerque area in the House of Representatives, said the state will benefit greatly from four types of projects funded by the package: broadband, water, road improvements and investments in clean energy.

“It is so important that we show the world and the country that we mean business when it comes to complying with our climate agreement and that we address our carbon footprint,” she said.

The Senators and Democrats also promoted the Build Back Better Act, a second law that includes expanding child tax breaks, funding a free preschool, and other White House policy goals. Congress is expected to take up this bill later this month.

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