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Every now and then, common sense and at least a modicum of bipartisanship breaks out in Washington. That has happened with the congressional approval of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The House passed the measure Friday night, 228-206. The Senate passed the bill back in August, 69-30. Specifically, the bill calls for $550 billion in new federal spending, while renewing existing transportation funding.

In the Senate, every Democrat and 19 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, supported the bill. In the House, 13 Republicans voted for the bill, including 1st District Rep. David McKinley. 2nd District Rep. Alex Mooney and 3rd District Rep. Carol Miller voted against it.

Six members of the liberal House Democrat “Squad” also voted against the bill, meaning it would not have passed without Republican support.

For weeks, the debate in Washington has focused on the process. President Joe Biden and many Democrats linked the infrastructure bill with the larger Build Back Better plan. The obsession over the political implications obfuscated the critically important details of what is in the bill.

Here are some of the key provisions of the infrastructure bill, according to Capito, who worked on the bill as part of her role as ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:

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  • More than $300 billion over five years for federal highways programs, including $3 billion for West Virginia.
  • $40 billion for bridges over five years, with West Virginia receiving more than $500 million
  • West Virginia will get $195 million out of the $1.25 billon appropriation for Appalachian Development Highway System projects, like Corridor H. Additionally, there is a $2 billion rural program that will provide grants to highway projects in rural communities, and at least $500 million of those grants must go to ADHS projects (like Corridor H).
  • $48 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure. A portion of this will be combined with additional funding from Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds for badly needed upgrades in West Virginia.
  • $65 billion for broadband, including at least $100 million for expansion of broadband in West Virginia.
  • The legislation reauthorizes spending billions to clean up abandoned mine sites, and it creates a new program to remediate orphaned gas and oil wells.

Unfortunately, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the spending will add another $256 billion in debt over the next decade. That is one of the reasons so many Republicans voted against it.

“Congress must invest in our nation, not saddle our children and grandchildren with taxes and debt,” Miller said.

But the alternative was to do nothing, which I suspect many Republicans preferred, so they could blame Biden. This was the best option for passage. As for the Squad, they are so obsessed with remaking and expanding the social welfare system that they were willing to scuttle these critical infrastructure projects.

Pavement does not have a political party. Reliable water service is not a partisan issue. Internet speeds do not vary if you are a liberal or conservative. When politicians do the right thing, as they did with the infrastructure bill, the people benefit, and that’s all that really matters.

Hoppy Kercheval hosts “Talkline,” on MetroNews.

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