House Freedom Caucus chair objects to infrastructure proposal
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday wrote to President Biden expressing his opposition to the White House’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, joining other congressional Republicans in signaling their disapproval with the president’s plan.
“Mr. President, while I recognize the importance of improving our nation’s infrastructure, I cannot support your proposal based on all of the information I have seen thus far,” Biggs wrote to Biden in a letter obtained by The Hill.
Biggs, who is the first congressional Republican to write directly to Biden about his infrastructure plan, argued the White House proposal “ignores our nation’s most critical transportation needs, is dominated by costly distractions, and will add trillions of dollars more to the already catastrophic national debt. “
Biggs acknowledged that roads and bridges across the country are in need of upgrades and conceded that competitors, such as China, are making advances on infrastructure while the U.S. lags behind. But the congressman took issue with the inclusion of other priorities beyond traditional infrastructure projects centered on roads, railways and bridges.
“We should not be using an infrastructure bill to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on small business support, community investment, rural partnerships and childcare facilities, among other measures,” Biggs wrote.
Biggs, who as head of the House Freedom Caucus leads an influential bloc of conservatives, joins a growing chorus of Republicans to swat down Biden’s proposal before negotiations have even started in earnest.
Biden in a speech in Pittsburgh earlier Wednesday detailed his infrastructure package that would spend $2.25 trillion over the next eight years to repair 20,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges, expand broadband access to rural and underserved communities, replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines to ensure clean water, invest in research and development and manufacturing, and expand access to home and community-based care.
The package would also aim to weatherize buildings and retrofit them to become more climate friendly, while also investing in research to boost climate-friendly industries.
Biden is proposing paying for the legislation by hiking the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, which the White House says will pay for the investments over a 15-year period.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) were among the Republicans who were quick to criticize the proposal, claiming it contains too many Democratic priorities and balking at funding it through raising the corporate tax rate.