Home>Congress>Eleven of New Jersey’s House members back $715 billion infrastructure bill

Members of the New Jersey congressional delegation in the 116th Congress in Washington in 2019, left to right: Donald Norcross, Jeff Van Drew, Frank Pallone, Mikie Sherrill, Tom Malinowski, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Albio Sires, Bill Pascrell, Andy Kim and Donald Payne. Missing: Josh Gottheimer

Eleven of New Jersey’s House members back $715 billion infrastructure bill

Van Drew votes no, while Smith becomes one of two Republicans to break with party to support measure

By Nikita Biryukov, July 01 2021 3:15 pm

Every member of New Jersey’s House delegation save one backed a $715 billion bill focused on water and transportation infrastructure Wednesday.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton), the two Republicans representing New Jersey in Congress’s lower chamber, split their votes on the measure.

Van Drew was the only New Jersey representative to vote no, while Smith was one of just two Republicans in the chamber to back the bill. A spokesperson for Van Drew was out of the office and did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The measure, penned by House Democrats and different to the bipartisan infrastructure deal being negotiated in the Senate, includes $343 billion for roads and bridges, $117 for drinking water infrastructure, $109 for transportation agencies, $95 billion for railroads and $51 billion for wastewater treatment programs.

“It will fix our roads and bridges and fund our Hudson Tunnel, but that’s not all — with its investments in rail, mass transit, and electrification of our motor vehicle fleet, it does something as bold and new today as the interstate highway system was in the 1950s,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), a member of the House Transportation Committee.

The bill would provide roughly $21 billion for the Capital Investment Grant Program, which funds capital projects like Gateway.

Much of the plan’s spending is made up by requests put in by individual lawmakers.

There’s $9.25 million for the long-sought expansion of Route 55, one of the most dangerous roads in the country. Another $1.3 million is devoted to replacing a pedestrian bridge near NJ Transit’s Bridgewater Station. Long Branch’s NJ Transit station would get $13 million under the plan.

“This legislation is a monumental down payment on America’s future,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson). “A great nation invests in itself. For too long, we have let our bridges, roads and public transit systems decay and molder. The pipes carrying clean drinking water are fracturing and our aging sewers needs massive upgrades too.”

The bill’s future is uncertain, but its narrow House passage bodes ill for its chances in the Senate. Republican members in the upper chamber last week reached an agreement on a framework for a $579 billion infrastructure plan, but signs of dissent are already bubbling up.

Democrats say the package is too small and intend to pass a reconciliation bill to plus up infrastructure investment. That would allow them to pass the bill with just 50 votes instead of the 60 needed for regular legislation.

Republicans themselves have balked about the plan to couple the infrastructure and reconciliation bills together.

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