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South Carolina legislators will meet starting next week to begin talks on how more than $3 billion in federal funds will be spent, with House lawmakers convening Tuesday in Columbia.

On the agenda for the SRS and ARPA Appropriations Ad Hoc Committee is how nearly $2.5 billion from the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) passed by Congress will be spent in the Palmetto State, as well as $525 million from a U.S. Department of Energy settlement over radioactive waste stashed at the federal Savannah River Site.

Generally, ARPA funds can be used for COVID-19 response, public-health and public-sector services and infrastructure spending on water, sewer and broadband needs.

Early talk on one possible use of ARPA funds includes picking up the tab on a $350 million portion of a massive container port expansion in North Charleston. Lawmakers have already pledged $200 million in state money to the project, which drew some criticism as it was briskly folded into state appropriations earlier this year.

“The virus has had an enormous impact on the economy, as you know, with logistics and the supply chain and things to help to streamline and facilitate that sort of flow we believe will be allowable,” Gov. Henry McMaster told The State in July.

Lawmakers will also start discussions on how to dole out $525 million from a Department of Energy settlement over nuclear waste kept past federal deadlines at the Savannah River Site near Aiken. Some $75 million of the $600 million overall deal has already been set aside for private lawyers hired by Attorney General Alan Wilson. —Sam Spence

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