On March 10th, Congress cleared the first major federal spending legislation of President Biden’s administration. The $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill will bring roughly $51.5 million to Southwestern PA. The funds will be distributed across the counties of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland. The incoming funds are for initiatives including the construction of new income-based apartment units, advanced technical education for middle- and high-schoolers, and substance abuse recovery programs.
The Associated Press reported that this year in the U.S. House alone, 2,021 projects by Democrats, worth $2.5 billion, and 706 projects by Republicans, worth $1.7 billion, were included in the infrastructure bill. All members of the U.S. House delegation representing southwestern Pennsylvania districts touted that they had secured funding for multiple special community projects.
For example, Senator Casey reports getting $2.2 million for the extension of a water distribution system in Greene County. The office of Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Greene, and Washington secured $3 million for the Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs’ Washington County Campus. There is also other funding coming to the southwest corner of the state; you can view a breakdown of the funds here.
Along with these initiatives, and after new transparency rules were put in place, the long-overdue legislation to fund the government for this fiscal year also marked the return of individual funding requests or earmarks. Earmarks are provisions inserted into a spending bill that direct funds to a recipient to use for a specific community project or purpose. Earmarks were banned in 2011 after a controversy over conflicts of interest.
Lawmakers can now only request funds for eligible non-profits and state or local governments for projects that have community support. The requests have to be publicized on an accessible website, and recipients of the funds must prove that they, their spouses, and immediate family members have no financial interest in the initiatives.
The Center for Coalfield Justice will watch for updates on the spending of these funds and make sure that these funds are being spent the way they were intended. For more information or to get involved, please contact our Field Program Coordinator Paul Fedore at email@example.com or call 724-229-3550 Ext. 8.