U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., expressed hope that a bipartisan infrastructure deal announced Thursday at the White House would have plenty money for Louisiana's big-dollar road and bridge priorities, saying "a bridge is coming near you."

The agreement proposes $579 billion in new spending, including $109 billion for roads, bridges and major projects, a deal summary says.

Molly Block, spokeswoman for Cassidy, couldn't yet say how much would be headed toward Louisiana and said the framework agreement doesn't identify specific projects.

Rather it will be up to the states to establish spending priorities. But, she said, many are already known in Louisiana, including a new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge, another over the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles and extensions of Interstate 49. 

"I met with the president. We got a deal," Cassidy said in a selfie video he posted on Twitter as he walked outside the White House Thursday. "The largest infrastructure package in the history of the American government. A bridge is coming near you. Not right away, not tomorrow, not next year, but we've begun the process."

In a statement, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson said Louisiana has "many needs" that the money could help with. He specifically mentioned the I-149 connector project between Lafayette and New Orleans, the Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles and "growing traffic congestion in the Capitol Region." 

Cassidy was one of 10 Republican and Democratic senators who helped broker the compromise. They met Thursday with President Joe Biden; Cassidy stood behind Biden when he announced the deal outside the White House.

The proposal would mean $1.2 trillion in new and previously planned spending over eight years, including $312 billion in new spending for transportation overall.

In addition to roads and bridges, that spending would include safety, public transit, rail, electric buses and electrical transportation infrastructure, estimates say.

The overall spending figure amount is well off the $2.25 trillion in new spending that Biden had originally proposed in his American Jobs Plan. 

While the agreement cuts or trims many of the climate change-related initiatives Biden had proposed, it contains an energy section that includes one of Cassidy's legislative priorities: building new pipelines to store carbon dioxide and cut greenhouse gas emissions, the senator's aides said.

The agreement also puts aside billions for resiliency, which would provide funding for coastal restoration and flooding projects.

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"There's $47 billion for resiliency," Cassidy said. "So, I do think, as we focus upon the roads and bridges that are so important, we also think about how we are making a beginning investment in resiliency that will be essential as we address our changing environment."

The resiliency money is part of a pot of $266 billion set aside for water, broadband, power and other, non-transportation kinds of infrastructure, the deal summary says. 

While some of the overall proposal's dollars could be used for projects related to hurricane recovery, it does not include the specific supplemental disaster aid that southwest Louisiana has been seeking to rebuild after Hurricanes Laura and Delta last year. 

Local officials have pleaded for the $3 billion in aid, saying they will not be able to rebuild without it and warning that many residents may be considering whether to abandon the region permanently nearly 10 months after Laura.

Discussions related to that money are happening on a separate track, Cassidy's aides said.

“Senator Cassidy continues to talk with colleagues and push for it and try to find a different vehicle to get that money down to the state,” Block said. “We’re still trying to work to get support so we can get something passed.”

Southwest Louisiana suffered devastating damage from Laura, the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana since 1856, and from Delta, which brought flooding to the region.

Both Biden and Cassidy emphasized the job impact from the proposed spending.

"We'll also be creating those jobs that help to rebuild the coastline, or to build the pipelines to sequester off the carbon dioxide, etc. And I think it's important to send the message: There's gonna be a lot of jobs that come out of this," Cassidy said.

Details were scarce on how the package would be paid for. The deal summary says revenues would incorporate some unused coronavirus stimulus spending, a collection of other kinds of revenues and fees, and improved tax collection.

None of the revenue options includes previously proposed corporate or gasoline tax increases that drew fire on the right and left.


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.