Battle lines drawn on Biden’s infrastructure plan

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Republican lawmakers and White House officials on Sunday came out swinging over President Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure, with GOP senators using their appearances on the morning political shows to take aim at the size of the plan and its proposed corporate tax hikes and Democrats defending the legislation as a way to generate sustained job growth.

Biden unveiled the plan, which he called a “once-in-a-generation investment in America,” on Wednesday with a speech in Pittsburgh. He said the legislation would provide billions to rebuild roads, bridges, tunnels and other structures while also providing billions for efforts to transition the U.S. away from the use of fossil fuels, both in the country’s power grid and on roadways, where the plan provides funds for encouraging electric vehicle use.

{mosads}Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the proposal would be fully funded by a hike to the corporate tax rate and added that it would begin cutting into the deficit after 15 years.

“Now is our chance to make infrastructure choices for the future that are going to serve us well in the 2030s and on into the middle of the century, when we will be judged for whether we met this moment here in the 2020s,” Buttigieg said on “Meet the Press.”

“Across 15 years, it would raise all of the revenue needed for these once-in-a-lifetime investments. So by year 16, you’d actually see this package working to reduce the deficit,” Buttigieg added.

On “Fox News Sunday,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese defended the plan to host Chris Wallace, answering questions from Wallace about whether more federal spending is needed by saying the program would generate sustained job growth across the U.S.

“We think we can not only have a strong job rebound this year, but we can sustain it over many years. That’s the goal,” Deese said. “Let’s also think to the longer term about where those investments that we can make that will really drive not just more job growth but better job growth, not just job growth in the short term but job growth in the long term by investing in our infrastructure, by investing in our research and development in a way that we haven’t since the 1960s.”

Republicans touted their party’s unified opposition to the bill in appearances on NBC, ABC and Fox, with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) calling on Biden in twin appearances on “This Week” and “Fox News Sunday” to embrace a much smaller package.

“I think there’s an easy win here for the White House if they would take that win, which is make this an infrastructure package, which is about 30 percent [of what their proposal entails],” Blunt said on Fox.

“My advice to the White House has been take that bipartisan win, do this in a more traditional infrastructure way, and then if you want to force the rest of the package on Republicans in the Congress and the country, you can certainly do that,” he added.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) took offense to the administration’s method of funding the proposal: a hike on the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, a move that he said represented “a repeal of one of our signature issues in 2017,” referring to the GOP tax reform plan that passed that year.

“I think it’s a big mistake for the administration. They know I think it’s a mistake, and I also think it would be an easy victory if we go back and look at roads and bridges and ports and airports and maybe even underground water systems and broadband,” said Wicker.

It’s unclear whether Democrats will seek Republican support to pass the bill. Some Democrats have held out hope for winning GOP support for the legislation, while others, including Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), have indicated that Democrats could seek to pass the legislation through budget reconciliation should Republicans signal a refusal to negotiate in good faith on the issue.

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package was passed into law last month through the budget reconciliation process, which requires 50 votes in the Senate and allowed Democrats to completely bypass Republicans.

Tags Ben Cardin Brian Deese Chris Wallace Infrastructure Joe Biden Pete Buttigieg Roger Wicker Roy Blunt

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