Bipartisan infrastructure deal moves forward in US Senate

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Rural Alaska broadband(KTUU)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 5:55 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Thursday, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) spoke with members of Alaska’s press corps via telephone about the bipartisan infrastructure deal that she and 20 other senators have worked to put together. The entire Senate voted 67-32 on Wednesday to begin debate on $550 billion in new federal funding for infrastructure initiatives.

Murkowski’s colleague, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and 31 other GOP lawmakers voted against the deal, but she says that if it comes to pass Alaska should expect to see funding in several areas.

“Our efforts to make sure that Alaska was receiving parity is going to play out in this bill,” the senator remarked, while listing multiple categories of long-term infrastructure improvements that would be addressed.

“What we define as bridges, roads, rails, ports, water access, broadband … All these legacy infrastructure initiatives that we recognize are needed, are important — and in many parts of the country are old and decaying, and in Alaska they don’t even exist yet,” she said.

Alaska’s senior senator also noted that she was personally invested in the proposed allocation of $3.5 billion to Indian Health Services, for the purpose of improving sanitation facilities in unserved and underserved communities.

The bill still faces several votes in the Senate and would also need to pass the U.S. House of Representatives, where some Democratic leaders are expected to attempt the passage of a separate $3.5 trillion spending bill, to make up for cuts by the bipartisan group, but Murkowksi says the deal marks weeks of debate and compromises, from the White House and both sides of Congress.

“It’s not just necessarily good for Republicans or just for Democrats; I am saying it’s good for Americans,” she said. “It’s pretty historic. We haven’t seen this level of support or focus on infrastructure for our nation in decades.”

Senator Sullivan’s office told Alaska’s News Source on Thursday evening that he still waiting to see full details of the bill. In May, Sullivan and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee presented what he referred to as a “5-year highway bill.” Alaska’s lone congressman,Republican Don Young, who formerly Chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, published his own framework for funding infrastructure in the United States last month.

A short breakdown of the areas that would receive funding through the bipartisan group’s deal can be found here.

Editors note: This article has been updated to include the a response from Sen. Dan Sullivan’s office, regarding Wednesday’s vote on the infrastructure deal.

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