Cassidy says La. would be helped by the bipartisan infrastructure deal; thinks Biden’s ultimatum will hurt GOP support

Cassidy was among 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats who came up with the compromise deal
Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 6:50 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, says the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package he helped to put together will greatly benefit his home state. But Cassidy also thinks an ultimatum by President Joe Biden could threaten GOP support for the proposal.

“Louisiana will have tremendous benefits, I may even say disproportionate relative to the rest of the country, so not only is it the largest infrastructure bill, as I tell folks a bridge is coming to a town near you but also there is $47 billion for resiliency,” said Cassidy.

This resiliency funding could be used for coastal restoration projects. Louisiana’s coastline remains fragile.

“So, that is ideal for Louisiana,” said Cassidy.

The bipartisan proposal includes $109 billion for roads and bridges, $312 billion for transportation and $65 billion for broadband needs.

“If you think about the child growing up in Opelousas, she or he may not have access to everything that you would have in New Orleans, the Russian professor, the person that teaches physics, all those things that we know she or he needs to achieve their potential,” said Cassidy about expanding broadband access.

And while the compromise infrastructure package Cassidy helped to put together is much smaller than what President Biden originally proposed, it still includes $16 billion for ports and waterways.

“I’m very sensitive to that, always very much inquiring what do we do about our ports and there is ports and waterways have a lot of investment,” said Cassidy.

The Port of New Orleans issued a statement on the funds earmarked for ports.

“We are pleased ports are a priority in this proposed infrastructure agreement. Port NOLA greatly needs new wharves, cargo handling equipment, modern bridges and an effective regional transportation system. Over the past 10 years, Port NOLA’s container volumes have more than doubled and will continue to grow as we build for a new generation of ships. Now is the time to invest in sustainable and efficient infrastructure for the future, and we look forward to working with Louisiana’s delegation to deliver for the State and region.”

But President Biden also wants Congress to approve separate legislation to include other infrastructure priorities Democrats want, that are not in the compromise proposal. They include subsidized childcare and climate change spending.

Biden told reporters he will not sign the bipartisan legislation without the so-called “human infrastructure” legislation being approved.

“If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem,” said Biden.

Cassidy says Biden’s comments were a surprise.

“First, that was different than what the president told us privately, a different impression. As one of his defenders says, you know, the president occasionally misspeaks so we’ll see how the next couple of days happen,” he said.

Cassidy hopes Biden’s stance will not unravel the deal he helped to negotiate.

“So, I’m hoping that we continue in good faith, and it won’t be as if we crafted something just to give the president a point of leverage to get something that Republicans disagree with,” he said.

He said if Biden’s ultimatum could cause him to withdraw his support for the bipartisan proposal:

“I can tell you that if the latter is the case the bill won’t pass, it just won’t. It’ll be a breakdown of trust between the two sides,” said Cassidy.

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