Arizona’s Kelly pushes infrastructure needs during first Senate floor speech

Aug 4, 2021, 12:04 PM
(C-Span Screenshot)...
(C-Span Screenshot)
(C-Span Screenshot)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s Mark Kelly took his first opportunity to speak on the Senate floor to address infrastructure needs as a $1 trillion package continues to move closer to the finish line.

Kelly said infrastructure was the state’s “most important responsibility” in continuing to rebuild an economy still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate, including Arizona Democrats Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, could approve the bill in the coming week despite an array of obstacles from interest groups on both sides of the political spectrum.

“Arizona will benefit from upgrading and modernizing our infrastructure,” Kelly said. “That’s why for the past few months I’ve been working with a group of Republicans and Democrats to come to an agreement on a historic investment in our infrastructure.

“I advocated for Arizona’s priorities and we worked together to find common ground and work out our differences. And now we’re on the verge of passing it.”

Kelly noted paving roads on Navajo Nation and widening Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson as major projects he’d like to be done with funding from an infrastructure deal.

About $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges is part of the deal, according to a White House fact sheet.

“It’s not just in big cities but in rural and small towns, small-town Arizona and tribal communities,” Kelly said. “That’s the item on our checklist now.”

The bipartisan bill will face a rough road in the House, where progressive lawmakers want a more robust package but may have to settle for this one to keep Joe Biden’s infrastructure plans on track.

Paying for the package has been a challenge after senators rejected ideas to raise revenue from a new gas tax or other streams.

Instead, it is being financed from funding sources that might not pass muster with deficit hawks, including repurposing some $205 billion in untapped COVID-19 relief aid, as well as unemployment assistance that was turned back by some states, and relying on projected future economic growth.

“I’ve been determined to deliver these infrastructure investments that Arizona needs to continue to grow,” Kelly said. “We want to grow and we want to attract new and innovative companies to our state because Arizona’s prosperity depends on continuing to create new, high-paying jobs, including growing our tech sector.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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