The U.S. Senate has blocked a portion of President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill.
By a vote of 51-49 Thursday, the Senate turned back a measure to spend $50 billion on highway, rail, transit and airport improvements and another $10 billion as seed money for an infrastructure bank designed to spark private investment in construction. The measure needed 60 votes to proceed to a full debate.
Prior to Thursday’s vote, 6th District Congressman Jim Clyburn voiced his support for the measure in an interview with Columbia affiliate WVOC. Clyburn said the measure makes sense because it would put people back to work while making the much-needed infrastructure improvements the nation needs, including the roads and bridges in South Carolina.
“You are telling me that all of the stuff you read in the paper every day about what is happening to the Highway Department here in South Carolina, that’s because of state money?” He told WVOC’s Keven Cohen, “You are not going to do highways, bridges, roads… ports, unless you have federal dollars involved. The state of South Carolina cannot, cannot… raise the money that’s necessary to do it.”
AUDIO: Clyburn says infrastructure improvements would help put people back to work
SCDOT has had cash-flow problems that came to a head over the summer, when the agency delayed payments to contractors until two or three months after they were due. The agency eventually had to request a $52 million advance from the federal government in order to continue making its payments on time.
A new report from the agency says it faces a $29 billion shortfall over the next 20 years in terms of keeping pace with infrastructure needs.
Clyburn also spoke about the disposal of nuclear waste. Officials in South Carolina are still angered over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s move to discontinue the nuclear repository project at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The state’s nuclear waste, notably at the Savannah River Site, and waste from other states would have been sent to the site for storage.
South Carolina, Aiken County, and other groups are currently taking legal action against the NRC over Yucca Mountain. Clyburn said a new more feasible site may have been discovered in New Mexico.
AUDIO: Clyburn says New Mexico site may be alternative to Yucca Mountain
Energy Department officials are considering shipping some plutonium from the Savannah River Site near Aiken to a federal storage site in New Mexico. According to the proposal, the plan would send about 1,100 pounds of plutonium from old nuclear weapons to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.
Audio courtesy WVOC Columbia