WASHINGTON —South Dakota's U.S. senators opposed the passage of a once-in-a-generation infrastructure package on Tuesday, Aug. 10, on Capitol Hill, though Sen. Mike Rounds acknowledged the measure will benefit the state.
The $1 trillion infusion of federal spending into roads, bridges, water treatment and broadband expansion, received 69 votes in the U.S. Senate, including 19 Republicans. The measure, which has the support of President Joe Biden, still needs to be approved by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
Rounds, who helped craft a framework with a bipartisan work group, ultimately opposed the end product. He said he participated in advancing the bill in direct negotiations to "give South Dakota a seat at the table."
Rounds said he could not be at the vote on Tuesday, as he accompanied his wife to cancer treatments at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The 2,000-page bill OKs $550 billion in new federal spending, including $110 billion for roads and bridges, $25 billion for airports, and $65 billion for high-speed internet expansion.
But the bill, which the independent Congressional Budget Office says will add $256 billion to the federal debt over 10 years, also includes a number of smaller items fought for by individual senators, including $15 billion to remove lead pipes and $1 billion to continue clean-up efforts of the Great Lakes.
How they voted
- Sen. John Thune (R): No
- Sen. Mike Rounds (R): Absent
- Sen. John Hoeven (R): Yes
- Sen. Kevin Cramer (R): Yes
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D): Yes
- Sen. Tina Smith (D): Yes
Rounds said, ultimately, some of these projects and other provisions turned him sour on the deal.
"However, as this framework progressed out of our bipartisan working groups to the Senate floor, it became evident that the legislation in its final form included several progressive mandates and federal funding clawbacks that I believe go too far," Rounds said.
The state's senior senator, Thune, is the second-ranking Senate GOP member behind Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Tuesday, Thune veered from McConnell, who supported the bill, in casting a vote against the measure.
Thune said he applauded senators "from both sides of the aisle" for good-faith negotiations, but opposed the bill on its deficit spending.
"While I support investments in our nation's infrastructure, I could not support this final product that will further increase the national debt and financially burden future generations."
Earlier this year, a national infrastructure report card noted that South Dakota faces "challenges," with schools overburdened by debt, nearly 100 dams with "high-hazard potential," and nearly 1 in 5 bridges considered "structurally deficient."