WASHINGTON D.C. (WHTM) — There’s been chaos in Washington D.C. this week as lawmakers battle over two major bills. Both could have major impacts on the country and in Pennsylvania.
There are two pieces of legislation at the heart of the arguing in Congress.
One is an infrastructure package that would spend $1.2 trillion on items like roads, bridges, broadband internet, and climate change investments. It has bipartisan support and already passed the Senate.
The other is a spending package. The details aren’t set in stone and lawmakers are still trying to negotiate exactly what’s in it.
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Right now it spends $3.5 trillion on things like community college, Pre-K, Medicare expansion, extending the child tax credit, and putting more money into fighting climate change.
That one has most Democrats on board, but some moderate Democrats think it’s too expensive. So the progressive Democrats are using the infrastructure bill as leverage, saying they won’t vote for it until moderates agree to pass the more far-reaching spending bill.
If passed, both bills could affect Pennsylvania in major ways.
Lonce Bailey, an associate professor of political science at Shippensburg University, says the infrastructure bill could do a lot for Pa.
“In terms of the benefits of the bill Pennsylvanians would be big winners in this, no doubt about it,” Bailey said.
According to Senator Bob Casey Pennsylvania specifically would get $11.3 billion for highways, $1.6 billion for bridges, $2.8 billion for public transportation, $100 million for broadband, $7.7 billion for abandoned mines and unclaimed wells.
“Pennsylvania being the 5th largest state in the country with large amounts of coal mining, or former mines, and lots of transportations needs would be a big winner in the tune of billions and billions of dollars,” Bailey said.
The spending bill would also have big implications for people in our state. It does things that impact almost everyone like give money for universal Pre-K, childcare assistance, an extension to the child tax credit, and paid family and medical leave.
“That is sort of social infrastructure that is needed as the president and other democrats would argue to support people working and working families in the United States,” Bailey said.
Critics of both bills point to the price tags, saying they could cost Americans.
“You would not necessarily see it in the short run. You might see increases to yearly deficits and the debt overall,” Bailey said.
The senators and congress members representing Pennsylvania are basically following party lines when it comes to supporting the bills. Republicans are against both and Democrats are for them.
The exception is that Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and Congressman Dan Meuser, both Republicans, have expressed support for the infrastructure package.