Exclusive: Mass State Senator Jo Comerford’s Take on the Divisive Infrastructure Bill

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President Biden’s domestic agenda remains in limbo after divisions within the Democratic party have delayed progress in passing his proposed $3.5 billion infrastructure bill.

A major part of Biden’s progressive domestic policy proposal, this infrastructure bill would cost over $3 trillion, making it one of the most progressive spending bills in over a decade. The bill would be a “transformative investment in the social safety net and climate policy,” according to CNBC.

Unlike other pieces of legislation proposed by the Biden administration so far, like immigration reform and efforts to combat the Covid pandemic, the current infrastructure bill has caused heated Democratic intraparty conflict. This proposed legislation, which was introduced to Congress on June 4, 2021, has highlighted some ideological differences among Democrats in Congress, reminding politicians that not all Democrats are fully on board with President Biden’s progressive agenda.

Among the politicians who have voiced opposition to large economic spending bills like the current infrastructure bill are Joe Manchin, a senator from West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, a senator from Arizona. Both senators occupy the moderate wing of the Democratic party and have been criticized by progressive Democrats for breaking with their party’s leaders on major issues.

The Willistonian spoke with Jo Comerford, who represents Hampshire, Franklin, and Worcester counties in the Massachusetts State Senate. Senator Comerford believes that this infrastructure bill would be a vital investment in America’s communities.

“This bill is a generational investment in our infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges, potable water, and broadband. Infrastructure in our communities can mean the difference between health and illness, whether jobs can locate in certain communities, and the wellbeing of town finances, which affects our schools,” Comerford said.

The infrastructure bill as it was originally proposed by Democrats would invest $110 billion in roads and bridges, as well as $65 billion to improve the nation’s broadband, according to CNN.

Comerford also highlighted the importance of this bill in our local community and how it could help to update this area’s infrastructure to meet the needs of the 21st century.

“A lot of people in Western Massachusetts don’t have access to the internet, and they don’t have access to cell service,” Comerford explained. “Without those kinds of things, everything is affected in the 21st century.”

“So, the questions this raises are: can employees of a business find someplace to live?’ she added. “Will schools have equal access to resources? Will businesses be able to do business? All of these questions hinge on the quality of the infrastructure.”

This bill will be difficult to pass unless all Democrats are in support of the proposal, and questions remain as to how President Biden can proceed with his agenda when some Democrats in Congress, Manchin and Sinema, continue to oppose legislation that could help this country get back on track after the pandemic.

“Joe Manchin has held the party hostage for a really long time, and Kyrsten Cinema has done that too. I’m really proud of the Democrats who are saying: ‘No, we’re coming out of a global pandemic, and we need this generational investment,’” Comerford said.

“The solution lies in people across the country who are going to say to everyone in government: ‘Enough squabbling, get this done, or you’ll pay a political price,’ and that makes the constituents of Joe Manchin very powerful,” Comerford added.

Comerford thinks that it’s up to the American people to elect politicians who will make the right choices when it comes to issues like infrastructure.

“The only thing that has the power to make government work is people,” she said. “The only thing more powerful than money or politics is an informed and engaged public; that’s it; there’s nothing more powerful than that.”