We should be used to it by now. The $1-trillion infrastructure bill the U.S. Senate passed Tuesday gave Louisiana the short shrift. There’s no other way to describe it though Louisiana’s senior senator, Bill Cassidy, would have us believe he’s the man of the hour.
Cassidy, a left-leaning Republican, fashioned himself as one of the bipartisan negotiators who supposedly worked around the clock for months to hammer out an agreement with President Biden and the Democrat leadership in the Senate on this trillion-dollar boondoggle which promises to rebuild America’s roads and bridges. It won’t, and according to Louisiana’s other U.S. senator, John Kennedy, only 23 percent of the $1 trillion will actually be spent on highway construction and such. That would help explain why Kennedy voted against it.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a gargantuan appropriation even by Washington standards, and it could have made a huge difference in improving the lives for tens of millions of Americans, including Louisianians. Any Louisianian can attest the state needs all the help it could possibly get in pouring some fresh asphalt and building a new bridge or two here or there, but I suppose we should just be content with the few crumbs Cassidy delivered.
Yet for weeks Cassidy did not miss a beat in suggesting the roughly $1 billion Louisiana will receive from this $1-trillion scam would pave the way for the construction of a new bridge in Baton Rouge and one in Lake Charles, both sorely needed. He also suggested his hard work would result in the state finally completing Interstate 49, and that it would even lead to the construction of Interstate 14 across central Louisiana, beginning in west Texas and ending near the Atlantic Ocean. There is not one word in this roughly 2,700-page bill that says anything whatsoever about a new bridge in Baton Rouge or Lake Charles or I-49. It took Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to convince the Senate to adopt an amendment that authorizes I-14. Why couldn’t Cassidy get it done? After all, he had a seat at the grown-ups table as one of the lead negotiators.
The truth of the matter is the bulk of the roughly $1 billion earmarked for Louisiana will flow to the state Department of Transportation and Development. It will be up to DOTD to decide how the money will be spent, and we know how that has panned out in the past.
It is painfully obvious Cassidy’s new-found prominence inside the Beltway yielded little. If he carried such a big stick, how is it possible he could not convince the negotiators to set aside $1 billion for the Lake Charles region to recover from the two hurricanes that ripped the community apart a year ago? Kennedy took a stab at passing an amendment to include the money for our friends in southwestern Louisiana, but Democrats blocked it.
Meanwhile, the infrastructure bill that Cassidy was touting moments after the Senate passed it includes $12 billion for a new tunnel in New York; $66 million in new subsidies for passenger rail and Amtrak; $810 million to encourage people to recycle; $7.5 billion for electric automobile charging stations; and $40 billion for mass transit in big cities among other handouts and payoffs. There’s also language in the infrastructure bill that prohibits discrimination against those among us who are confused about whether they are male or female.
There’s more to this outrageous scenario. The infrastructure bill is headed to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will sit on it until the Senate does what she commanded — pass a $3.5-trillion reconciliation bill. The Senate and Cassidy will oblige. That’s the deal they cut.
To surmise, Bill Cassidy just blew $4.5 trillion on nothing for Louisiana except a few crumbs of cake.
Thank you, senator.
Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at email@example.com.