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Biden’s infrastructure plan could funnel money to NM projects

President Joe Biden delivers a speech on infrastructure spending at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — President Joe Biden unveiled another plan last week.

Like his last one, which was forged into the American Rescue Plan Act, this plan comes with about $2 trillion in government spending, and it moves beyond things like improving roads, bridges and airports.

Specific projects aren’t yet known, but Biden’s outline has elements that could uniquely apply to New Mexico.

“The way we see this, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make investments into this country,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, said during a virtual news briefing with reporters Thursday.

For example, Biden wants $100 billion spent on digital infrastructure, an area where New Mexico lags behind other states. A fact sheet on the White House’s website calls broadband “the new electricity.”

It also calls for $5 billion to be spent on a rural partnership program, and the program description specifically mentions tribal nations. It says the money could be used to help the areas “build on their unique assets and realize their vision for inclusive community and economic development.”

Another $16 billion would go to the energy industry for its workers to plug oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned mines.

Jean-Pierre said the plan will follow a similar track as the rescue plan. Biden has laid out an outline of his vision. Now, it will head to the House of Representatives and then the Senate.

She said it likely won’t funnel money to states on a per-capita basis.

Once passed into law, she said the states will submit applications articulating their needs and what projects they will most benefit from.

Already, the plan has been met with opposition from Republicans, including New Mexico party chairman Steve Pearce.

“The price tag of this plan is outrageous,” Pearce said in a statement. “After a nearly $2 trillion pork-filled relief package that sought simply to bail out blue states bogged down in debt, President Biden now wants to again put Americans on the hook for trillions. While it’s important to rebuild our roads, bridges and airports, taxing Americans more isn’t the answer.”

Jean-Pierre said there eventually will be a breakdown showing each state what projects will be funded with the proposal.

“We’re working through that to make sure we have a breakdown of states so folks can see how this infrastructure plan, this jobs plan, will be beneficial and provide job and opportunities to states,” she said.

SPACE FORCE: Sen. Ben Ray Luján was in Albuquerque last week, touring Kirtland Air Force Base to discuss what role New Mexico plays in the Space Force’s mission.

Luján, along with fellow New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich and senators from Colorado, California and Nebraska, wrote a letter last week to the Department of Defense pressing for answers about the decision to locate U.S. Space Command headquarters in Alabama. The decision was made in the waning days of the Trump administration.

Kirtland had been one of several finalists for the headquarters.

“Kirtland Air Force Base has proven itself an asset to the mission of U.S. Space Force,” Luján said in a statement. “The work happening in New Mexico helps provide crucial information for America’s military, identify national security threats, and support our allies across the globe.”

Ryan Boetel:

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