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Stimulus bill includes $30 billion for infrastructure

Stimulus bill includes $30 billion for infrastructure

In an effort to deliver relief to middle America as the federal government tried to rescue Wall Street, the House of Representatives on Friday passed a $61 billion stimulus bill half of which is devoted to infrastructure.

   Lawmakers voted 264-158 for a second package of measures to help spur the sagging economy after passing a huge tax refund earlier this year in hopes of increasing consumer spending. Democratic leaders quickly pushed through the measure, which has been talked about as a possibility for several weeks, and got 41 Republicans to go along.

   Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, worked to include the infrastructure funds in an effort to create more than 1 million jobs. The bill also extends unemployment benefits and Medicaid funding.

   “With more than 800,000 construction workers out of work, and the construction industry suffering the highest unemployment rate (8.2 percent) of any industrial sector, this bill puts America back to work,” he said a statement delivered on the House floor.

   The infrastructure money is spread out among various types of projects:

   ' Highways and bridges, $12.8 billion.

   ' Amtrak, $500 million.

   ' Airport Improvement Program, $600 million for runway, taxiway rehabilitation and expansion, access roads and other work.

   ' U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, $5 billion for locks, waterways and dams.

   ' Transit, $3.6 billion.

   ' Environmental infrastructure, $6.5 billion for storm drains, wastewater facilities and other projects.

   State transportation departments have more than 3,000 approved projects totaling $17.9 billion that could be bid out within 90 days if money is available, according to the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. The money could also speed up many resurfacing projects.

   In August, the Federal Highway Administration redistributed $1 billion to states for highway projects, one-eighth of the amount states sought.

   The outcome in the Senate, where debate was still underway on Friday, is still unclear.

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