A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

With lawmakers returning to Washington, KY groups rally for infrastructure, climate and jobs investments

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public News Service

When U.S. House lawmakers return to Washington this week, they’re expected to vote on advancing President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion budget bill.

Kentucky groups have had recent rallies in Louisville and Lexington, to urge lawmakers to support the major federal investments in both pieces of legislation.

Kentucky AFL-CIO Vice President Ashley Snider said she believes the spending plan would provide relief – like extending child tax credits, and paid family and medical leave – for families facing overlapping stressors in the pandemic.

Driving on deteriorating roads costs Louisville drivers more than $1,700 a year, according to a 2020 report from TRIP, a transportation research nonprofit. (Photo from Adobe Stock, via PNS)

“People are really struggling, they’re being evicted from their homes,” said Snider. “It’s just, you know – COVID has really taken a toll on the working class. Legislation that can benefit folks like that would really be helpful.”

The U.S. Senate recently passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that would fund road and bridge repair and jumpstart renewable-energy investment. Kentucky stands to receive $4.6 billion for highway repairs and $438 million for bridges.

But critics of both spending packages, including Republicans and some Democrats, argue the cost is too high and could have economic consequences.

Residential Energy Coordinator with the Mountain Association Chris Woolery said Kentuckians are already seeing some positive effects of clean-energy investment.

He pointed out the infrastructure bill includes $65 billion to modernize the nation’s electric grid – if it doesn’t get stuck in congressional gridlock.

“Until those things happen, it’s on us to make sure they happen,” said Woolery. “It’s on Kentuckians and Americans to hold our legislators – decision-makers – accountable, to a decision that will impact generations.”

A poll by the group Data for Progress found 66% of likely voters support Congress passing a $3.5 trillion spending plan, while 26% said they oppose it.

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