DELRAY BEACH — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Saturday that she isn’t worried about the four incumbent Democrats leaving their Florida congressional seats when their terms end later this year.
Or her party losing its majority in the U.S. House.
“The Democrats have absolutely no intention of losing the House,” she told the crowd of mostly elected officials gathered at a press conference outside the George Bush Boulevard drawbridge in Delray Beach.
Democrats have control of the U.S. House by 10 seats but have struggled to find well-known and well-heeled candidates to challenge Republicans in two purple Miami-Dade districts. Coupled with a new district coming to the state thanks to post-2020 Census reapportionment, Florida Republicans are eyeing gains in the state in November that could help the GOP win control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Pelosi was in Palm Beach County to highlight a key Democratic congressional achievement — last fall’s trillion dollar-plus infrastructure bill expected to pump billions into Florida. To underscore the importance of the funds, Pelosi ventured to the site of the broken bridge in Delray Beach.
The drawbridge has been stuck in the upright position since March 3 and some of the money from the infrastructure bill could be used to make repairs.
Pelosi touted the more than $19 billion earmarked for Floridians from the bipartisan infrastructure plan Congress approved last fall. Some of those dollars, from a $250 million allotment for bridges over the next five years, could be used to repair the 79-year-old bridge in Delray.
Local officials said repairing the bridge was not just a commuter priority, but an economic one, too.
“We stand steps away from mom-and-pop businesses across the bridge that basically are on a daily basis feeling the impact of no driving traffic going by, no pedestrian traffic walking by,” said Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia.
The spans of the bridge are unable to close, and remain in the open position. Maintenance staff determined the cause of the malfunction to be damage to the original machinery.
The county said repairs could take approximately six weeks, but may take longer depending on the availability of materials.
The infrastructure bill, along with repairing bridges and roadways, has billions set aside for public transit, broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity, clean water and airports.
“This means many good jobs, and our lives are going to be safer, less costly,” said U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. “When you don’t have to fix a tire that hit a pothole, or drive around to find how to get over the bridge, things are much better.”
The legislation will also provide $1.1 billion for Everglades restoration efforts, including a pair of Treasure Coast reservoirs to block contaminated rainfall runoff from entering the Indian River Lagoon, in addition to a water preserve in Broward County and funds for a pump station along the Tamiami Trail.
Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the plan for omitting funding for another critical Everglades project, the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir. That reservoir, which is under construction south of Lake Okeechobee, is aimed at reducing toxic discharges to northern estuaries and providing water to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.