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Capito, Manchin talk infrastructure deal

WASHINGTON — Both West Virginia senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin held a press conference Thursday on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act framework to be debated following passage by the Senate on Wednesday night.

“I’m really excited that the group was able to push it over the finish line, because I think it’s exceedingly important for our state. It’s a lot of dollars for our highways, for our water, for our airports. I think as a country, it’s something that people feel is long overdue,” Capito, R-W.Va., said.

According to a summary of the plan released by the White House, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $550 billion in new federal spending on traditional infrastructure projects, estimated to create more than 2 million jobs per year over the next decade.

This will be the largest long-term jobs bill in decades, and will create good-paying, long-term jobs over the next eight to 10 years, said Manchin, D-W.Va.

“In every part of our country, good paying jobs, high paying jobs. For people with the skill sets, there’s going to be opportunity for everybody. I’ve never seen a better jobs bill than what we have coming,” Manchin said. “It’s the longest long term job building in decades, we’ve not done anything like this. You’ve seen a lot of programs that have been implemented. But every part of this is about jobs, it’s going to take people to make this happen. So that’s something that I’m extremely proud of.”

The bill includes $110 billion for new roads, bridges, and other major projects, as well as reauthorizing the surface transportation program for the next five years based on the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 passed by Capito’s Environment and Public Works Committee in June. The bill also includes $11 billion for transportation safety programs.

The new agreement includes $39 billion for buses, passenger rail and train stations, and modernization and accessibility projects. Another $66 billion would be invested in Amtrak maintenance and modernization.

Other provisions include $17 billion for port infrastructure; $25 billion for airports; $50 billion. For water resiliency and western water infrastructure; $55 billion for clean drinking water infrastructure and lead pipe replacement; $65 billion for high-speed broadband infrastructure; $21 billion for environmental remediation projects; and $73 billion for power grid resiliency projects and clean energy research.

The bill is not paid for through tax hikes. Instead, the bill includes several different pay-fors, including recouping fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits, unused COVID-19 relief dollars and unused pandemic unemployment funds, delaying Medicare Part D rebates, miscellaneous fees, and an estimated $56 billion in economic growth due to a return in investment in the bill’s infrastructure projects.

Tyler Bennett can be reached at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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