FORT LEE, N.J. — New roadways, bridge and tunnel repairs, lead pipe replacements, improved storm drainage systems and new bike paths are among the infrastructure improvements that some local members of Congress say are coming to the tri-state region.
They also acknowledged, however, that bringing those changes here is not a done deal, and may take weeks or months to begin happening, if at all.
The lower house of Congress, the House of Representatives, approved a $715 billion transportation infrastructure bill on July 1, called the INVEST in America Act. The U.S. Senate, however, has not yet approved a transportation bill, even though a group of senators from both parties has forged a nearly $600 billion agreement.
If it passes, it would then need to be reconciled with the House bill and sent to President Joe Biden to sign.
All of the options will take time, as Rep. Bill Pascrell, a member of Congress from Paterson, New Jersey, said in his hometown on Tuesday.
“We may get part of the bill in August,” Pascrell said at a news conference in front of Great Falls National Historic Park. “Or we might get the other part in September or October.”
Pascrell’s delegation colleague, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, was also pushing for infrastructure funding approval on Tuesday. In Glen Rock, New Jersey, he pointed out the broad support that a package of improvements, called the Building Bridges Plan, has gotten. It was created over months of negotiations by members of Congress from both major parties.
Gottheimer is the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is made up of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans. They forged a $1.2 trillion package.
It’s not only gotten approval from a group of U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle but senators have created a similar infrastructure plan of their own, and President Joe Biden has indicated that he wants to sign it.
“You need to have Democrats and Republicans,” Gottheimer said. “We need these resources,” he said about the infrastructure proposal that he helped to create. “We can’t keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to our nation’s infrastructure.”
However, because proposals for a far larger infrastructure bill that would include what insiders call “human infrastructure” social programs are still being debated, it’s possible that Congress may not approve anything before Capitol Hill goes on recess for the month of August.
Pascrell said that not taking action now on as much infrastructure funding as possible could be summed up in one word.
“Stupidity,” he said, adding, “We’ve got to pass that bill in the Senate.”