WASHINGTON — Nevada’s U.S. senators are asking House and Senate leaders to restore $7.6 billion cut from a 2015 transportation bill that goes into effect next year and threatens to strip $50 million from the state for projects that include construction of portions of Interstate 11 connecting Las Vegas to Phoenix.
Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, both Democrats, sent a letter to House and Senate leaders from both parties on Wednesday asking that funding be restored for projects in states such as Nevada, which has grappled with traffic snarls due to population growth.
“While every state would be affected, Nevada is always at significant peril if infrastructure funding is reduced because our population continues to grow faster than any other state,” the senators wrote in the letter. It was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act was passed in 2015, but then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., sought, and Congress passed, a reduction of $7.6 billion in the bill to lower spending to adhere to budget caps.
The lowered spending starts in July.
The $305 billion bill was passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support in the House and Senate and signed into law in 2015 by former President Barack Obama. Neither senator was in office at the time; Cortez Masto was elected to the Senate in 2016 and Rosen in 2018.
Money in the bill was doled out to states to improve roads, bridges and infrastructure, creating jobs to boost an economy still struggling from the great recession.
“Every dollar of federal support for transportation investments is vital to Nevada,” Cortez Masto said.
One of the Nevada projects that would be impacted by the loss of funds is construction of I-11, which will eventually run from Canada to Mexico through Nevada and Arizona.
The senators asked the leaders to have the cut funds restored in spending bills for 2020 that are currently wending their way through Congress.
Congress and President Donald Trump had hoped to craft a massive transportation bill, which lawmakers in both parties favor, to repair crumbling infrastructure and build new roads and bridges.
Trump nixed chances of passing a bipartisan bill this year after House Democrats launched investigations into his personal finances, property and the implications of obstruction of the special counsel’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.