Cassidy hopeful bipartisan infrastructure plan can gain support after White House deal
WASHINGTON - Louisiana's senior senator, Bill Cassidy, is praising the bipartisan agreement reached Thursday on an infrastructure package. Cassidy, along with nine other senators, met with President Joe Biden before announcing a deal had been reached.
"It's huge," Cassidy said. "The biggest infrastructure package in the history of the United States of America. More money coming to Louisiana than we've ever received before. Giving us the opportunity to build all [of] those highways and bridges, as well as doing things such as coastal restoration and addressing river flooding that we've not had the chance to do."
The $1.2 trillion proposal includes $579 billion in new spending, including $312 billion for transportation projects.
The proposal could make the decades-long dream of a new Mississippi River bridge a reality.
"The 'new' Mississippi River bridge, which is about 60 years old, is at the top of that list," Cassidy said during an interview with WBRZ Thursday evening. "Of course, the state of Louisiana could change their priorities, but I can't imagine that happening. And, by the way, this is merely the financing of it. You['ve] still got to have the decision as to where to place it, how to build it, etc. But as far as the financing, this puts that in place."
The bipartisan framework includes reforms for bridge permitting, which Cassidy claims could expedite the project.
Cassidy says his conversations with the president have focused on energy initiatives. Beyond traditional infrastructure, the proposal includes $266 billion for water, broadband, and environmental projects. In that pot, $47 billion is earmarked for coastal and climate resiliency, something Cassidy touted outside the White House.
"There's been an incredible problem associated with loss of coastline or flooding in these riverine systems," Cassidy said. "There's $47 billion for resiliency. When I called the White House, initially, to explore this, I said 'do you mean like coastal restoration? Do you mean like riverine systems, which are flooding, and maybe we can do something to make them more resilient? Or wildfires to try to tamp that down.' They said 'that's exactly what we're talking about.'"
Cassidy believes his group can get more lawmakers from both parties on board. In his pitch for support, he highlights the jobs this infrastructure plan would create.
Though he is optimistic, Cassidy cautions even after Thursday's huge step, plenty of work remains in both chambers of Congress before this could become a done deal.
"Let's meet together, keep your word, understand this is a bill all of us can get behind, then it can be signed into law," Cassidy said.
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