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Louisiana’s two U.S. senators at odds over infrastructure bill

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 5:40 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:34 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are still debating the massive infrastructure bill and Louisiana’s two Republican senators find themselves on opposite sides of the aisle on the proposed legislation.

“This is not an infrastructure bill,” said Republican Sen. John Kennedy. “It’s an infrastructure, Green New Deal, and welfare bill.”

“There will be the promise of better jobs, better-paying jobs, better infrastructure, internet service for Louisiana, and I could go down the list once more and that is a good thing,” said Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy.

As lawmakers in Washington finalize the details on the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, Cassidy and Kennedy find themselves at odds with one another. Cassidy has played a big role in the negotiations over the bill and has said on multiple occasions it would be paid for without having to borrow money. On Monday, August 9, Kennedy claimed that statement is inaccurate.

“According to the Congressional Budget Office, which is non-partisan, only about half of the bill is paid for. The rest of the money, we have to borrow, about $256 billion. $256 billion is more than the entire Louisiana gross domestic product,” explained Kennedy in response.

According to Kennedy, only 23% of the money goes toward infrastructure as we know it (roads, bridges, railways, etc.). The rest goes toward other things that he says have nothing to do with infrastructure at all.

“For one of the first times ever, it recognizes transgenders as a protected class. I don’t know what that has to do with an infrastructure bill,” added Kennedy.

Cassidy said he thinks the disagreement comes from what an individual considers to be infrastructure.

“Some people would not consider coastal restoration an infrastructure project or they wouldn’t consider flood mitigation an infrastructure project and that may be where we differ,” noted Cassidy.

Another claim by Kennedy is the extra money will come from $1.3 billion in new taxes on Louisiana petrochemical plants over 10 years. But Cassidy says it’s a renewal of a superfund fee the industry has already paid on chemicals they ship around the country. And rather than hurt the industry, it will ramp it back up.

“Oh, it’s going to be huge. It is going to encourage expansion of chemical plants and all the service industries that work with those plants,” explained Cassidy.

There is no specific timeline as to when a final passage vote will happen but we can expect it to occur within the earlier part of this week.

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