CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) says she has mixed feelings about the $2 trillion infrastructure package proposed by President Joe Biden on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters during a tour of Yeager Airport in Charleston she hopes the package, that spans spending over the next decade, will give West Virginia more flexibility on projects.
“I want to see West Virginia be able to have the flexibility to be able to complete Corridor H, make our bridges more stable and maintained. I want to see us build to the capacity where we can withstand weather events,” Capito said.
Biden rolled out the American Jobs Plan in Pittsburgh which includes $621 billion over the next eight years into transportation infrastructure such as bridges, roads, public transit, ports, airports, and electric vehicle development.
The proposal, which would raise the corporate tax rate to 28% to fund it, includes $111 billion to improve drinking-water infrastructure, $100 billion for expanding broadband access, and $100 billion for upgrading electric grids.
More than $300 billion will be used to build and retrofit affordable housing, along with constructing and upgrading schools.
$400 billion would be directed to care for elderly and disabled Americans while around $580 billion is proposed to be invested in American manufacturing, research and development and job training efforts.
Capito said parts of the massive spending proposal concerns her and Congress needs to figure out how to pay for it.
“He (Biden) talks about social infrastructure where he is talking about free community college and Pre-K. It’s much expanded more than what my vision of what our physical infrastructure is in this country,” Capito said.
MetroNews previously reported that Capito, ranking member on Environment and Public Works Committee that deals with infrastructure, has expressed confidence about the committee creating its own bill by Memorial Day. Capito said there is always ‘great bipartisan agreement on infrastructure’ and hopes to bring help to the Mountain State.
Capito released an official statement about the plan on Wednesday evening from the EPW Republicans account:
While speaking with the media at the airport, she noted the upgrades that would come to facilities such as Yeager. Detailed by the White House on Wednesday, Biden is calling on Congress to invest $25 billion in airports, including funding for the Airport Improvement Program, upgrades to FAA assets and a new program to support terminal renovations and multimodal connections for affordable, convenient, car-free access to air travel.
The White House saying ‘the United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors.’
“I’m sure it will be more modernization, not just of the exterior but the interiors,” Capito said of the airport funding.
“A lot of our infrastructure is falling apart. Not just our bridges and our roads but our air infrastructure as well.”
The senator toured the terminal upgrades, the Airport Response Coordination, the U.S. Customs facility, the Woody Williams Military Flight Operations Center, and the Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School construction during her visit.
Yeager has rebounded from COVID-19 pandemic numbers that saw a 95 percent passenger decline last April with as few as 15 passengers flying per day, and airport officials believe pre-pandemic flight numbers could occur this week.
The facility received $3.27 million from Biden’s America Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief package and just more than $2 million from the FAA in the Airport Coronavirus Grant Program that was part of the December stimulus package.
Airport Director Nick Keller told MetroNews on Wednesday that construction projects have not been delayed despite the pandemic. He said as many as 10 projects could be going on at once this summer.
Those include the Marshall flight school set to open this fall, sanitary sewer line extension, taxiway bravo rehabilitation and construction, U.S. Customs building which is expected to finish in December, maintenance area slip repair, runway rehabilitation phase two, Jetbridge C2 replacement, terminal restroom remodel, public address system and signage replacement, new military flight operations center, and maintenance and rental car relocation.
Capito was complimentary of Keller’s actions during the pandemic.
“Yeager didn’t just sit around and decide they are going to wait until things come back,” she said. “They took the opportunity to plan, they move forward with the Marshall University addition. They redid the hospitality area that is now much more user friendly.”