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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit a broken bridge in Florida Saturday. Here’s why

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit a broken bridge in Florida Saturday. Here’s why

By Bryan Lowry | Miami Herald

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join South Florida Democrats Saturday in Delray Beach to promote President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law as the party seeks to highlight policy wins ahead of a difficult midterm election.

Pelosi, D-Calif., will join South Florida Democratic Reps. Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick at 11 a.m. at the George Bush Boulevard Bridge to highlight how the new law will enable local governments to repair roads and bridges throughout the country. The bridge has been closed since March 3 because of a malfunction.

“The reason we’re doing it at this particular bridge is because it’s stuck and it’s a pretty good example of what happens when your infrastructure breaks down,” said Frankel, who represents the community. “This particular bridge was built in 1949 and reconstructed in 2010. It’s rated functionally obsolete.”

Frankel said appearing at this bridge was a way to tell constituents that “help is on the way” in the form of the new infrastructure law, which will send $19 billion in total federal aid to the state and make additional competitive grants available to local governments.

Florida Republicans, however, have complained that the bridge funding formula employed by the Department of Transportation under the new law has shorted the state. 

Florida will receive $245 million in bridge repair funding over a five-year period, including $49 million during the current fiscal year, a fraction of the amount other large states, such as Pennsylvania and New York, are set to receive. The funding formula relied on the cost of repairing bridges in the individual states.

In January, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., led a letter accusing the Biden administration of penalizing the state for maintaining its bridges better than other states. It was co-signed by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and five House Republicans from the state. All seven lawmakers voted against the law.

“What they do when they’re embarrassed — which they should be, that they didn’t support this — they try to find a flaw,” Frankel said of the GOP criticism. “Much of the negotiation was done in the Senate and it would’ve been helpful if either Rick Scott or Marco Rubio was involved.”

Asked about Pelosi’s presence at the Saturday event, Frankel pointed to Florida’s strategic importance for both parties in November’s midterm election.

“We’re the third largest state. There’s going to be some key races here in Florida,” Frankel said. “I think it’s part — it should be — people need to know that Democrats really have delivered on our promises and the president has delivered on his promises. So it’s getting the message out.”

Pelosi’s visit to Frankel’s 21st Congressional District puts her in the same congressional district as former President Donald, who frequently feuded with the House Democratic leader during his presidency. Trump resides just 15 miles north at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump will be holding a rally in Broward County the same day that Pelosi, who twice oversaw his impeachment, visits the state.

The speaker’s trip to South Florida also comes at a time when Democrats are struggling to find candidates to take on Republican Reps. Carlos Gimenez and María Elvira Salazar in the nearby 26th and 27th Congressional Districts.

“There’s interest, but folks who we’re talking to won’t commit until they see the lines,” Frankel said when asked about the slow pace of recruitment, pointing to the ongoing standoff between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature over the redrawing of Florida’s congressional map.