RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In an interview with 8News on Monday, Representative Abigail Spanberger (D – Henrico) sat down with 8News to discuss the infrastructure bill headed for President Joe Biden’s desk on Nov. 15.
The legislation, officially billed as the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” totals $1 trillion in spending over the next ten years, or $100 billion per year – about 1/7th of the government’s annual spending on defense.
“Really, the benefits are in the name,” Spanberger said. “We are making investments in our nation’s infrastructure, and we are investing in job creation and in the future of our country.”
“That’s broadband connectivity,” she continued. “Which is such a vital issue throughout Central Virginia. That’s roads and bridges across our commonwealth.”
The bill includes billions in funding for upgrades to physical infrastructure, such as aging bridges. But the bill has been repeatedly slashed in a series of compromises with conservative Democrats, falling from an initial proposal of $2.3 trillion over ten years.
In a report on the bill, the AP cited experts in the field, including engineers, historians and economists, who said the bill would likely be insufficient to make up for decades of federal neglect.
Spanberger also outlined her support for the administration’s “Build Back Better” plan, a broad piece of legislation that includes a number of Democratic priorities, from paid family leave to drug pricing reform.
“A major component of [the bill], one that I’ve advocated for, would lower the cost of prescription drugs and cap insulin prices,” Spanberger said.
Virginia stands poised to see $10 billion dollars from the bill. Figures from the White House said $7 billion would head to highways, $537 million for bridge repair and replacement. Plus, another $1.2 billion for public transportation, $738 million for clean water and $100 million for broadband internet coverage.
The bill has drawn near-universal opposition from Republicans, and has been delayed by opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D – WV), who opposes many of the bill’s progressive proposals. Because the Senate is evenly split, Democrats need unanimous support within their party.
Spanberger said she worked in the House to roll back some overreach she saw in the bill’s banking regulations.
“Initially the bill was proposed with a provision that would require that banks report transactions of more than $600 to the IRS,” Spanberger said. “Now, while I wholly support that the wealthiest Americans and corporations alike, that people actually pay the taxes that are due, this to me was a totally onerous and unnecessary proposal.”
Instead, the bill will now only require reporting if a bank account has transactions that are much larger than reported income. If an individual account has transactions of $10,000 in excess of reported income, that information will be flagged to the IRS.
The bill also currently includes some provisions aimed at reforming the immigration system, mainly through a pathway to temporary residency for undocumented immigrants.
But Spanberger said her focus was on the border, “I’ve been working with my senate counterparts to ensure that through that amendment process there are investments made in border security provisions.”
She added that those investments could include “surveillance of the border.”