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What's at stake with upcoming infrastructure vote in Congress

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Posted at 4:42 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 16:42:36-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — What do pastries have to do with infrastructure? Tim Eversole, the owner of the Bean Haus Bakery and Cafe in Covington, Kentucky, says everything.

"It's terrible to get employees to come work for you," Eversole said.

Eversole says his issue finding a pastry chef to make his desserts isn’t salary-related, it’s traffic-related.

Getting to his coffee house from across the river in Cincinnati, Ohio, requires his employees to commute over the Brent Spence Bridge, one of the most heavily trafficked and congested bridges in our country.

"We hired a pastry chef from the west side and she was going to come work for us and said she was going to do a test drive the day before," Eversole said.

"She found out it was going to take her 45 minutes to get to work because of the bridges and so she quit," Eversole added.

Eversole's infrastructure conundrum underscores what is at stake this week in Congress.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday.

The measure already passed the Senate in a bipartisan fashion last month.

It would create $550 billion in new funding including $110 billion to fix roads and bridges like the Brent Spence.

It is still unclear, however, if this bipartisan infrastructure bill will actually become law.

That's because a number of progressives have vowed to vote against the bill unless a separate, multi-trillion spending package is passed.

It is becoming more clear that legislation won't be done before Thursday's vote.

UNCERTAINTY AND FRUSTRATION

The fact, Congress remains so close and yet so far from passing infrastructure reform is frustrating to many business owners around the country.

"We are beyond frustrated and beyond frustrated this has taken so long," sad Brent Cooper, the president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Cooper says it’s hard for people like him outside of Washington to understand why this infrastructure vote hasn’t taken place yet, especially since 69 Democrats and Republicans voted for it already in the Senate.

He says the longer some progressives in the House argue that it’s not big enough and the longer some conservatives argue that the country can’t pay for it, the longer millions of Americans and businesses will suffer, even those located thousands of miles away from this bridge.

"Whether you know it or not, you're impacted by the Brent Spence. We had the consular general from Canada come in and ask us, 'What’s going on with the Brent Spence?'" Cooper said. "Because they are trying to get goods from Canada down to Florida and this is the way they go."

Of course, if Congress passes the infrastructure bill this week, it doesn’t mean traffic will be solved instantaneously in our country.

Building a new bridge to relieve traffic in Cincinnati and Covington would first mean obtaining funding from the Department of Transportation, a process that will be competitive.

Once the project gets going, it could take five years to complete.

However, Cooper says coming together on infrastructure this week would send a message that the U.S. isn’t happy with the status quo.

"This is as obvious as it gets. It isn’t Democrat, Republican, it's American," Cooper said.