In this era of divided government, take a moment to be grateful that Congress delivered on the promised and overdue investment in infrastructure this nation so desperately needs.

The $1 trillion bill passed late Friday will invest in America so we can build back better. It’s an awful slogan, but one that at least is clear on intent.

It’s time to invest in America.

For New Mexico, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will bring $3.5 billion, the bulk of which — $2.5 billion — will repair and rebuild roads and bridges across the state.

Other money will be spent to expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations, improve broadband access in rural areas, secure safe water and mitigate wildfires.

While the process was overly long and complicated — from Senate passage of the legislation in August to House approval in November — Congress finally got something done. And in both the Senate and House, several Republicans voted with the Democratic majority. It’s barely bipartisan, but even some movement in that direction is an improvement.

Part of the delay with passing the legislation is strong disagreement about what constitutes infrastructure. For many, the definition is limited to bricks and mortar. To that way of thinking, federal dollars should be spent repairing highways or shoring up bridges.

But President Joe Biden understood broadband connectivity is just as essential to the future as a smooth ride on a four-lane highway and persuaded Congress to make an investment.

That’s important for New Mexico, which lacks reliable internet service in many parts of the state. Some $100 million in the legislation should be coming here to expand the broadband network and make it more affordable.

We saw firsthand why that matters over the months of COVID-19 isolation. During the pandemic, too many children missed classes because their internet connection was spotty. No student should have to complete an assignment in the parking lot of the local library or McDonald’s because the signal won’t reach their house.

With remote work more common, strong internet service in all parts of New Mexico will bring jobs to rural communities — not because a business or company moves in, but because an individual sits down to work every day at the kitchen table.

Now, Congress has to finish the job and pass a companion bill — actually named the Build Back Better Act — that focuses on a different kind of infrastructure. This $1.75 trillion bill is designed to secure the social safety net and ensure that in the wealthiest nation in the world, human needs once again are a priority.

Some of the provisions include investing in preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, expanding Child Tax Credits for a year, providing four weeks of federally paid parental, sick or caregiver leave, and extending pandemic-era Affordable Care Act subsidies. A key provision in the Build Back Better Act is $500 billion to combat climate change — essential, given the need to cut back greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill should have passed with the original infrastructure package, but a handful of House moderates want to see the Congressional Budget Office report on long-term effects on the budget deficit. The House needs to act when it returns from recess next week — if the CBO score is done — so the legislation can go to the Senate. Stay tuned for rocky negotiations and plenty of bickering there. And that’s just among the Democrats. Republicans are mostly sitting this one out.

Congress can still get the job done — with good-faith negotiating, give-and-take and, in the end, an up-or-down vote. That is how any political party delivers results, not just for its supporters but the entire nation. The nation will be investing in infrastructure. Next up, invest in our people.

(25) comments

Michael Kiley

Correctio below, 13 Republicans voted for the bill.

Michael Kiley

I strongly agree with the editorial. Republicans? Only 6 voted to fix collapsing bridges and crumbling highways, rated a D+ by the society of professional engineers. And here was the GOP response, from this morning's NYT. Why would anyone vote for a Republican? I strongly agree with the editorial. Republicans? Only 6 voted to fix collapsing bridges and crumbling highways, rated a D+ by the society of professional engineers. And here was the GOP response, from this morning's NYT. Why would anyone vote for a Republican?

House Republicans Who Backed Infrastructure Bill Face Vicious Backlash

Mike Johnson

The so-called "Build Back Better" bill is nothing but a new social welfare entitlement program that moves America closer to socialism. The moderate/conservative Ds who balked at it did it for good reasons, the CBO had not even scored it, it was written by hundreds of authors stuffing it with their favorite pork, and it was ill-defined and a jumble of sausage. The Penn-Wharton budget model indicated it was much larger in spending, and much lower in tax revenues than advertised by the "Democratic" Socialists pushing it as they were holding the really important items in the infrastructure bill hostage to their partisan whims. Moderate/conservative Ds in the House and Senate (thank you Joe and Kyrsten) will not allow this kind of sloppy, excessive, and socialist bill to pass. The Congress is a majority right-center, the "Democratic" Socialists need to understand that, and they will very soon. The midterms will also teach them a lesson about America's majority government philosophy. America is NOT NM, thank goodness.

Prince Michael Jauregui

Another excellent observation, hermano Mike.

I've noted two extremely disturbing -and revealing aspects of this latest complete squander of U.S. tax-payer dollars: Nearly 760,000 American lives have been needlessly lost to COVID-19 - a direct result of the terminal division in this nation created and exploited by both special-interest serving parties. A once powerful and Godly-blessed nation, now merely reduced to weak "Blue" and "Red" party-line states and cities. Not once, even during a devastating and debilitating global pandemic, coming together to offer a unified message -and fight- for We, The People. Yet, those greedy and self-serving D.C. demons suddenly became "bipartisan" for their true and only "god", $1.2 Trillion of them. Meanwhile, New Mexico is thrown some -relatively speaking- chumps change and The SF New Mexican shamelessly jumps on the bandwagon. Which brings me to my second point......

Two, I've not read a single "News source" allude to the wasteful first "Infrastructure" Con-job in 2009, perpetrated by the U.S. Pharaoh - with the inept and decrepit Joe by his side. Confirming, you can't teach an old dog (Read: Career politician) new tricks.

Mike Johnson

Well said Hermano, and who can forget the sanctimonious, hypocritical, and insincere "pleas" by MLG, Biden, etc. about how "we are all in this together", as they played politics and division as skillfully as Trump ever did. Politics is what is wrong with all things today.

Michael Kiley

Neither of you actually says something. Our country has a deteriorating public asset base that Republicans have done nothing to repair. Trump's plan? "Let the states do it." And of course category errors using "socialism" incorrectly as a cudgel, and "politics" as one thing, when it is, as Aristotle said, per genus et diferentium, in Posterior Analytics, a genus with many species, politics can't be wrong because it is many species of thing. Nothing but tired, old name calling, illuminating nothing. Drive a car? You are using a public asset, the roadway.

Michael Kiley

Nonsense. China lost about 2500 lives taking immediate action through its cadres with a leader on every block, which kept people home by measuring their temperatures. 2500 in a country with 1.2 billions. Trump went full speed BACKWARDS is responsible for killing 700,000 million Americans, each one because some person was not using a mask that costs less than a dollar. China 2500 under Xi, the US 700,o00 under Trump, he will be known as the typhoid Mary of the pandemic.

Emily Koyama

Um, Mr Kiley, perhaps you have been on a desert island since Biden took office? Over 300k have died in the US from covid since he was sworn in. Soon, the great "unifier" and the man who saved us all from Trump, will have presided over more covid deaths than Trump.

Of course, you'll still blame Trump.

If there are 100k covid deaths in 2024, you'll still blame Trump.

By the way, I don't believe ANYTHING the Chinese say. Five million could have died there, and they'd be able to cover it up, since they have complete control of the information space.

Lupe Molina

Trump is an idiot who can't put a sentence together and suggested people drink bleach. And some people were dumb enough to do so. So, yeah. His idiocy still matters.

Lupe Molina

Why use the word Pharaoh there, Michael? Odd choice of words...

Prince Michael Jauregui

Fair enough question, Ms. Molina: As the indisputable, most anti-Christian politician to ever occupy The White House, since 2009 I've only referred to the former Barry Sotero as the U.S. Pharaoh. Fittingly, he was the first and highest elected-official to order undocumented Latino children be detained in cages - and he shall be held accountable. Personally speaking, as a Christian, I refrain from the mere utterance of the names of false deities, and the U.S. Pharaoh.

Lupe Molina

Yeah, you're a pathetic racist.

Lupe Molina

Call it whatever you want, it's money well spent and I am here for it. You seem to think calling someone a "socialist" is some sort of insult but it's 2021, bud. The capitalist economy system that made you rich did so at the expense of others. This country might be center right now, but it won't be forever. Your generation spent all our money on senseless wars, tax breaks, and deregulation. We're going to undo all that. So, by all means, continue mansplaining but understand that your quickly becoming part of a minority. And I know you haven't experienced that before and you're scared but a shift to proper governance for all Americans is what this represents.

Barry Rabkin

Not proper governance of Americans at all. I am thankful every day that our country’s Founding Fathers created a country with the intent that the federal government should not take of its citizens from womb to tomb. Socialism is an absolute insult to the values of our country…

Prince Michael Jauregui

Excellent comment, Mr. Rabkin. (Any relation to Seth?)

Emily Koyama

Matters not what year it is. In 2021, there are plenty of examples of socialism (or, at the very least, government run amuck) that show how it ruins economies and impoverishes people.

There are just as many examples that show how capitalism, and free enterprise, has lifted more peiple out of poverty worldwide than any government programs have.

Frank Geick

The Bill includes $65B for Internet/Broadband, of which $2B is earmarked for bringing Broadband service to Tribal Lands. 14.2B will go to the FCC's Connectivity program that subsidizes broadband fees for low income households.

Michael Kiley

Continuation of my first message

Michael Kiley

Binaries rule. The American political system is ruled by the single member district, which includes basically all elections at the state and federal levels. The other system is proportional representation, and parliaments, used for example in Great Britain. We must choose one of the two major party candidates, we have to choose from two, if our vote is to "count".

I agree with the New Mexican editorial, but want to add to it: the rule of binaries. Two parties. The editorial is right that what really matters is helping

Michael Kiley

The rule of binaries governs our political system, and therefore is at the core of helping people. Our single-member district elections funnel down to two contenders, for voters who want to try to vote for the winner and see their wishes realized, not merely symbolized. One party has a history of hundreds of programs that do help people, from worker compensation to the Affordable Care Act. The Democratic Party. The other party, the desperately seeking suppression one, has opposed EVERY program for the poor, elderly, Ill and average American. The Republican Party. So they will oppose the legislation supported ably by this editorial.

If a reader disagrees, name one program—just one—the national GOP created. Just one. You can’t.

So let’s avoid the fallacy of false equivalence. One party helps people, one party does not. Voters with good reason in 2020 faced this binary and chose the helping party, wisely. Democratic (Bernie) leaders need remember they are ONE party and must produce one bill. And not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Because bills are not binary, there is always tomorrow, and we need to do the best we can today. Our people are suffering today.

Mike Johnson

Just one? How about the 1970 and 1990 Clean Air Acts? Nixon signed the 1970 act, and not one Senator voted no, and only 1 Congressman. And President Bush's 1990 upgrade of it passed by large votes, in both the House of Representatives (401-21) and the Senate (89-11). But of course that doesn't count I guess, right, it didn't "help" people with handouts and the government dole.

Jim Klukkert

Mike Johnson– The examples you cite, 51 years and 31 years old, are from an entirely different Republican Party than we know now. The Grand Old Party actually had some fine moments, and Richard Nixon is still fondly recalled at Taos Pueblo for returning Blue Lake.

Today's Republican Party features wackos like Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona, uncriticized by Republican leadership for posting videos that depicts Gosar killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging two swords at President Biden.

Way different set of Republicans.

Mike Johnson

Jim, I didn't notice any time limit for GOP accomplishments in Mr. Kiley's rant. Where can I view Rep. Gosar's videos? They sound interesting.

Michael Kiley

Sorry, no points, the Democrats created and all Nixon did was sign it. The programs are what counts, who sits in the oval office and just signs them. Same with Bush. What Bush and Cheney did was create two programs of tax expenditures that took from taxpayers in the middle and gave to the already filthy rich. If Mr. Johnson does not like handouts, start with the tax expenditures for the rich.

Lupe Molina

You have two examples from decades ago that don't specifically satisfy his question, after hundreds of GOP elected officials have walked through the halls of the capitol. And you're still insolent about it! Centuries from now, people we be fascinated by your perspective, Mike.

Welcome to the discussion.

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