All three of West Virginia’s U.S. House members touted the importance of infrastructure after the House of Representatives passed a sweeping bipartisan infrastructure bill Friday night.
But only one of them voted for the bill.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., was among the 13 Republicans who joined 215 Democrats to advance the bill, which the Senate approved in a 69-30 vote in August, to President Joe Biden to sign into law.
Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., and Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., voted against the bill, which Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., both voted for in August.
With Biden’s promised signature, the bill will authorize $550 billion in new spending over five years on roads and bridges, water systems, broadband, the electric grid, rail, ports, airports and public transit.
McKinley characterized the bill as an opportunity to fund pivotal upgrades in those systems in West Virginia, which got a ‘D’ on its 2020 Infrastructure Report Card, issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
“Tonight, instead of playing politics, I put America and West Virginia first,” McKinley said in a statement late Friday night.
Over five years, West Virginia should expect to receive $3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs; $506 million for bridge replacement and repair; $487 million to improve water infrastructure; $190 million to improve public transportation options; $100 million to help provide broadband coverage throughout the state; $46 million to expand an electric-vehicle charging network; and $44 million for airport infrastructure development, the White House said in August.
Mooney said the bill is “full of liberal priorities” in a statement posted to his official Twitter account early Saturday morning.
“The price tag far exceeds anything reasonable,” Mooney said.
Miller derided the bill as a “pathway to socialism” in a statement late Friday.
“West Virginia needs targeted investment in our roads, bridges, waterways, and broadband,” Miller said. “Projects like King Coal Highway, Corridor H, and the Bluestone Dam will help meet our state’s transportation and growth needs — and I look forward to supporting those projects in a different bill.”
In their statements, Mooney and Miller objected to the bill adding to the national debt. The bill would add $256 billion to the federal deficit, according to a finding from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a federal agency that provides independent analyses of budgetary issues.
But the White House has argued the legislation will help reduce inflation and strengthen supply chains by providing overdue reinforcement for the country’s ports, airports, rails and roads, creating union jobs and growing the economy.
McKinley said the bill will “help transform” West Virginia through improved roads, dependable internet and necessary upgrades to century-old water systems.
“We’ve all heard stories of children in West Virginia sitting in parking lots to do their schoolwork because their homes are not connected to reliable broadband internet,” McKinley said. “Tonight, I voted for those kids, and to give the next generation of West Virginians hope for a brighter future.”
The bill includes the Energy Infrastructure Act, advanced by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Manchin, which includes funding for grid reliability and resiliency, critical minerals and supply chains for clean energy technology.
In addition to $65 billion for power and grid upgrades, the bill authorizes $65 billion for broadband, $110 billion for roads and bridges, and $55 billion for water infrastructure nationwide.
McKinley reiterated his opposition to a 10-year, $1.85 trillion social safety and climate spending bill that House Democrats moved forward procedurally without a vote Friday.
Centrist Democrats in the House agreed to vote for that bill, if it receives confirmation of the White House’s budget estimate of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office no later than Nov. 15.
McKinley said that bill includes funding for Democrats’ “far-left wish list.”
The bill includes $555 billion in spending on climate and clean energy initiatives; $400 billion on child care and preschool investments; $200 billion on child and earned income tax credits; and $100 billion on housing upgrades. Democrats say the legislation would be paid for mostly by tax hikes on large corporations and the wealthy, in addition to expanded IRS enforcement.
The Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan panel that prepares official revenue estimates of all tax legislation considered by Congress, found Thursday the social and climate bill would raise $1.476 trillion in revenue over a decade and be unlikely to add to the national debt. The CBO has yet to score the bill, which Republicans have united against.
McKinley and Mooney are candidates in the new northern 2nd Congressional District approved by West Virginia lawmakers after the state lost one of its House seats following the 2020 census.