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Analysis: Mississippi senators split on infrastructure bill

U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss. | Sources: wicker.senate.gov, hydesmith.senate.gov

Mississippi's two Republican U.S. senators agree on many issues, but they split on a proposal for the federal government to spend $1 trillion on highways, water systems, broadband expansion and other infrastructure projects.

Posted: Aug 16, 2021 9:33 AM
Updated: Aug 16, 2021 9:33 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's two Republican U.S. senators agree on many issues, but they split on a proposal for the federal government to spend $1 trillion on highways, water systems, broadband expansion and other infrastructure projects.

Sen. Roger Wicker was involved in bipartisan discussions that crafted the bill. He voted for the measure when it passed the Senate last week, saying the federal spending would help Mississippi.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith voted against the bill, saying the price tag is too large.

The proposal awaits consideration in the House.

Wicker said in a statement Thursday that the bill has provisions that will ensure “Mississippi gets a fair shake in competitive transportation grant programs” worth more than $20 billion. He said Mississippi would receive $3.3 billion for roads and highways and $225 million for bridges, and the state could compete for money from $12.5 billion in bridge grants.

“Mississippi residents know these investments are badly needed," Wicker said.

Mississippi has almost 6,000 miles (9,657 kilometers) of highway in rated in poor condition, and more than 1,000 bridges also in poor condition, Wicker said.

“The investments in roads and bridges in this legislation mean Mississippians will have an easier time dropping off their children at school and shorter commutes to work,” Wicker said. "First responders will also be able to reach those in need more quickly, potentially saving lives.”

Hyde-Smith said in her own news release that proposed infrastructure package would add to the federal deficit and put unfunded requirements on other levels of government and the private sector.

“Many provisions in this sprawling legislation have merit and would help Mississippi, but voting for it is a bridge too far to cross,” Hyde-Smith said. “We need more infrastructure investment, but I am unconvinced this rushed massive, one-shot bill is the best or most fiscally-responsible way to fix roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems and the electrical grid."

The White House said that based on the traditional state revolving fund formula, Mississippi could expect to receive $429 million over five years "to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure that clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities.”

Jackson is among the cities with massive water system problems, including aging pipes and sewer lines. Thousands of residents were stranded without water after systems failed during an extended cold snap in February.

The Clarion Ledger examined financial documents that showed the capital city would need to spend more than $800 million to fix the sewer system and wastewater treatment plants. The newspaper said Jackson has not released a cost estimate for repairing its drinking water treatment plants.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba joined other mayors Wednesday in a video call with President Joe Biden. Lumumba and Biden, both Democrats, praised Wicker for supporting the infrastructure bill, and Lumumba said improving Jackson's water system is imperative.

“This is more than just a matter of convenience,” Lumumba said. “It is a matter of life and what people rely on. It’s how people take their medication. It’s how people, in the midst of a pandemic ... take care of their sanitary needs.”

Biden said the infrastructure spending could help cities replace dangerous lead-based water pipes.

A White House statement also said that from 2010 to 2020, Mississippi experienced 33 “extreme weather events” that cost the state up to $10 billion in damages. It said Mississippi could expect to receive $19 million over five years to protect against wildfires and $16 million to protect against cyberattacks, if the infrastructure bill becomes law.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497379

Reported Deaths: 9907
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34085530
DeSoto31806398
Hinds31796621
Jackson24303377
Rankin21852387
Lee15413233
Madison14513278
Jones13770241
Forrest13401250
Lauderdale11936314
Lowndes10908184
Lamar10461135
Pearl River9428237
Lafayette8450137
Hancock7690126
Washington7361156
Oktibbeha7110129
Monroe6713173
Warren6635175
Neshoba6606204
Pontotoc6603101
Panola6458131
Marshall6378132
Bolivar6264145
Union595194
Pike5780152
Alcorn5630100
Lincoln5416134
George490479
Scott470698
Tippah464981
Prentiss464181
Leflore4626143
Itawamba4590104
Adams4570119
Tate4539109
Copiah444691
Simpson4419116
Wayne438572
Yazoo437586
Covington427194
Sunflower4215104
Marion4206107
Coahoma4114104
Leake407287
Newton380879
Grenada3691108
Stone358264
Tishomingo355991
Attala330189
Jasper328065
Winston312891
Clay305875
Chickasaw296567
Clarke290294
Calhoun277645
Holmes266587
Smith262550
Yalobusha232347
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217663
Greene215448
Lawrence211140
Perry204555
Amite203454
Webster201645
Noxubee184940
Montgomery178956
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167338
Tunica158539
Benton147038
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131037
Humphreys128838
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104339
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 811551

Reported Deaths: 15101
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1138721885
Mobile720161315
Madison51829685
Shelby37203339
Baldwin37018538
Tuscaloosa34853599
Montgomery33879718
Lee23097239
Calhoun22095468
Morgan20584368
Etowah19727496
Marshall18224298
Houston17270405
St. Clair15884337
Cullman15257289
Limestone15177197
Elmore14944283
Lauderdale14060294
Talladega13653270
DeKalb12530258
Walker11055363
Blount10071174
Autauga9874146
Jackson9760177
Coffee9171188
Dale8850180
Colbert8768200
Tallapoosa7028194
Escambia6714127
Covington6661179
Chilton6571160
Russell623458
Franklin5926105
Chambers5553142
Marion4942126
Dallas4848199
Clarke472681
Pike4713105
Geneva4557126
Winston4456101
Lawrence4247116
Bibb421186
Barbour355274
Marengo333889
Monroe329062
Randolph324663
Butler323694
Pickens313479
Henry310365
Hale308586
Cherokee299257
Fayette289779
Washington250850
Cleburne245758
Crenshaw243075
Clay238867
Macon229862
Lamar214846
Conecuh185051
Coosa177338
Lowndes173061
Wilcox166738
Bullock151744
Perry137940
Sumter130738
Greene125344
Choctaw86527
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A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
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