Representatives tout infrastructure plan

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Members of New Mexico’s U.S. House delegation said they hope President Donald Trump keeps his word about wanting to sign a comprehensive infrastructure package.

“He agreed with the House on a top line of $2 trillion,” Rep. Xochitl Torres Small said of an infrastructure bill passed by the House. “This package actually comes in a little under that at $1.5 trillion.”

But the future of the legislation – which could provide more than $3 billion in projects in New Mexico alone – rests in the hands of the Republican-controlled Senate, where several hundred House bills have gone without a vote.

“We’ve seen Democrats and Republicans in the House support most of these initiatives,” Rep. Ben Ray Luján told the Journal. “(Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell should put an infrastructure package on the floor and see what the Senate can come up with.”

The House version, called the Moving Forward Act, would provide New Mexico with an estimated $2.6 billion for highways and $405 million for transit over five years, fellow Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland said.

“The Moving Forward Act will invest in infrastructure and create good-paying jobs while moving us toward an equitable renewable energy revolution,” she said in a news release.

Luján said the House package would “invest billions to make our roads safer, rebuild our schools, update our hospitals, protect our drinking water and more.”

“It’s also going to make a difference in investments that will create jobs in communities hit hard by COVID-19,” he said.

It includes legislation sponsored by all three members of the state delegation.

That includes an amendment to invest $6 billion in maintaining and modernizing the national labs, “including Los Alamos and Sandia here in New Mexico,” Luján said.

He said the bill would “fund projects from everything like building repairs, replacements of parking lots, roads and power systems and other upgrades to the labs so that they can maintain safe, efficient, reliable and environmental responsible operations.”

Land ports of entry such as Santa Teresa would also be upgraded under legislation sponsored by Torres Small.

She said money would be used to build “more lanes so that we can get passenger vehicles and commercial trucks through our ports of entry faster so that there’s not a lot of waiting in line.”

Torres Small said the upgrades would increase the number of passenger and commercial vehicles scanned “to identify more quickly and more comprehensively if there is trafficking and other smuggling across our borders.”

A provision sponsored by Haaland that would improve the planning of the electric transmission system, expanding use of clean, renewable energy sources, is also included.

“We have the potential to rebuild our country and our economy so we meet the challenges of climate change and ensure a just and equitable future for everyone,” she said.

The legislation also includes up to $100 billion to take broadband internet to rural and tribal areas. It also includes money to aid farmers in drought-stricken areas and to plug orphan wells in places such as southeastern New Mexico that would create jobs and protect the environment, Luján and Torres Small said.

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