Delegation unanimously opposes infrastructure bills

JACKSON — Wyoming’s congressional delegation is unanimously opposed to both infrastructure bills advancing through Congress, citing costs and the inclusion of what they deemed “far-left” policies in the two packages that total over $4.5 trillion if passed.

Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming’s lone voice in the U.S. House of Representatives, has not voted on either bill. But a Cheney spokesperson said she does not support the $1 trillion infrastructure package the Senate passed with a bipartisan vote Tuesday, and “strongly opposes” the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package that is proceeding through the Senate’s budget reconciliation process.

“While I support key investments in expanding rural broadband and upgrading our roads, the bill passed by the Senate [Tuesday] includes too many far-left priorities that would be bad for Wyoming,” Cheney said in a prepared statement. “On top of that, Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion wish list is reckless. It would raise taxes across the board, exacerbate the inflationary pressure we’re already seeing, impose new mandates from Washington that will hurt workers across our state and have further devastating effects that we cannot afford.”

The first package is more of a traditional infrastructure bill. It includes billions for roads, bridges, passenger and freight rail, public transit, airports, electric vehicles, zero- and low-emission buses and ferries, clean drinking water and power infrastructure aimed in part at building new transmission lines to expand renewable energy infrastructure.

The larger, $3.5 trillion measure is more expansive, and socially oriented. Among other things, it would earmark funds for tuition-free community college, historically black colleges and universities, addressing the “lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants,” mitigating climate change and investing in public housing.

Wyoming’s U.S. senators, Republicans John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, cast their votes Tuesday against the first package, which passed 69-30, beating the threshold to block a filibuster by nine votes. Nineteen Republicans voted in favor.

Barrasso and Lummis both cited the cost of the bill as the reason in statements and interviews surrounding the vote.

“It falls short of being fully funded,” Lummis told NPR. “And I joined 10 other senators to suggest that we use unspent COVID monies to make up the difference.”

The Congressional Budget Office said the bill would add $256 billion to the federal budget deficit over 10 years.

Barrasso also said in a statement that he didn’t think the bill included enough funding for Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs and that it included “left wing policies that will hurt Wyoming.”

He also lamented that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has tied passage of the bill in the House to the Senate’s passage of the wider-reaching $3.5 trillion social infrastructure bill. Being evaluated through the budget reconciliation process, that could allow the measure to pass solely with Democratic support.

Barrasso and Lummis voted against a procedural step authorizing a blueprint for the larger bill. Republicans’ opposition to the $3.5 trillion package was unanimous.

Lummis criticized the measure Wednesday for its increase in entitlements and said it would drive inflation, among other things. Barrasso has called the bill a “radical freight train to socialism.”