After years of talk and multiple false starts during the Trump administration, “Infrastructure Week” finally arrived in Washington. And where was our own Rep. Mike Kelly? Once again, on the wrong side of what western Pennsylvania and the nation need.
In spite of his claims that, “Republicans were boxed out of these negotiations,” the bill was actually a bipartisan effort originating in the Senate and gaining 19 GOP votes, including Senate leader Mitch McConnell. In the House, 13 Republicans, recognizing the need for this funding to states, supported the bill. This was in spite of leaders like Rep. Kevin McCarthy urging them to oppose the bill rather than acknowledge that the Democrats could successfully move our nation forward.
Rep. Kelly continued to oppose this funding for roads and bridges, rural broadband systems (that’s you, Mercer County), clean drinking water, rebuilding the electrical grid, and repair and expansion of airports and ports.
I can only imagine that Rep. Kelly does not spend enough time driving the roads and bridges here in western PA if he can’t recognize the need for this funding. This bill is the single largest investment in America’s infrastructure since the Eisenhower administration. In Pennsylvania alone, we will see $11.3 billion for roads, $1.6 billion for bridges, and $2.8 billion for public transportation. The steel alone that will be needed may give a secondary economic boost to our steel industry and provide jobs, safety, and security. This is what government was meant to do and what no state or community can do alone.
Is the package perfect? No. Neither President Biden and the Democrats nor the GOP got all they wanted. But this is the definition of compromise that is essential for progress. But Rep. Kelly continues to push politics over policy.
In his 10 years in Congress, Rep. Kelly’s authorship of legislation has been meager and included bills to remove healthcare from those benefitting from the Affordable Care Act and limiting the IRS’s ability to crack down on tax cheats. His continued advocacy of election misinformation and outright lies undermines our confidence in what has been shown repeatedly to be fair and open elections.
His use of leadership PAC funds for their assigned purpose, to help other candidates, was the lowest in the PA Congressional delegation at 22 percent. He also faces a separate investigation by the House Ethics Committee regarding a stock purchase in a steel company after receiving an advance briefing on planned funding for the industry.
Does our district of western Pennsylvania deserve better? Perhaps someone willing to put aside political animosity and work to develop other initiatives like the infrastructure package, that will benefit everyone every day. We can only hope that there is an individual from either party that is willing to take up this challenge. We citizens of western Pennsylvania, and specifically Mercer County, do deserve better.
John P. Gallagher, M.D.
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