Arizona’s congressional delegation split along party lines on a recent vote on a $1.2 trillion, five-year infrastructure bill.

The lawmakers representing northern Arizona took opposing positions.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Oak Creek) hailed passage of the bill as a big win for District 1, which includes almost all of Apache and Navajo counties as well as southern Gila County.

“Our nation’s crumbling infrastructure has created vast and complicated problems, but perhaps nowhere has the effect been felt so acutely as in rural Arizona,” said O’Halleran.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott) voted emphatically against the bill, which includes $500 billion in new spending, re-allocates unspent COVID relief money, extends fees and re-authorizes existing programs. The spending will total about $250 billion annually.

In a release Gosar said, “I voted against this so-called ‘infrastructure’ bill. This bill only serves to advance the America Last’s socialist agenda, while completely lacking fiscal responsibility.”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the American Jobs Act will increase the deficit by $256 billion over a decade. Moreover, the 9% figure apparently refers to an earlier, much larger infrastructure package. The price tag of the package has been essentially cut in half since those initial calculations were made, with many of the non-infrastructure elements dropped. Outside observers say a much larger share of the $1.2 trillion bill focuses on traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, mass transit and broadband.

The White House estimates the package would produce 2 million jobs over the next decade.

The U.S. Senate months ago passed the infrastructure bill with a strong bipartisan majority. The bill has been stalled in the House for months by the efforts of liberal Democrats to link it to a larger, “social infrastructure” bill. The progressive wing of the party agreed to vote for the American Jobs Act, with a vote on the second bill later this month. It has already been trimmed from $3.5 trillion to $1.85 trillion over 10 years.

The vote represented a win for moderate Democrats like O’Halleran and Arizona senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema. Senator Sinema played a key role in assembling a bipartisan group of moderates in the senate that assembled 69 votes in favor of the package there – one of the few truly bipartisan votes in the past several years.

The bill that passed the House last week included $65 billion for broadband, $3.3 billion for wildfire risk reduction, $110 billion for roads and bridges, $11 billion for highway safety programs, $25 billion for airports, $3.5 billion for water and sanitation projects on reservations, $8 billion for western water infrastructure and other measures.

“These programs will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure; keep America competitive with growing powers like China, create new, good-paying jobs that support a family; and combat climate change in the process,” said O’Halleran.

He noted that the Trump administration tried for years to enact its own major infrastructure package without success. Nonetheless, only 13 Republicans crossed party lines to support the bill. Six Democrats voted against it.

O’Halleran observed, “For far too long, Congress has agreed that infrastructure is an American priority but has let political gridlock get in the way of concrete action. I was proud to vote to pass this much-needed package today.”

Gosar blasted the 13 House Republicans who supported the infrastructure bill.

“Unbelievably, this massive waste of money could not pass the House on the strength of the Democrat majority. It took 13 Republicans to join the Democrats to pass this socialist waste of money. The Republican conference has members who are not part of the America First movement and who actively undermine our conservative efforts,” he said in an email letter to constituents.

Contact the writer at paleshire@payson.com

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(3) comments

Matt Carlyon

At least this money will stay in the US and not go to Afghanistan.

Mike White

Only 9% of the spending is on infrastructure. Don't fall for this pork-laden, social giveaway bill that will continue to cost more trillions after the initial $1.9 trillion spending period.

Don Manthe

I guess you don't read articles that you comment on. The 9% figure was disproven in the article and a sinple task of adding up the basic infrastructure numbers will prove your number incorrect.

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