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GOP senator: Two sides ‘far apart’ on infrastructure compromise

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)
Greg Nash

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said Sunday that Republicans and Democrats remain “far apart” on infrastructure reform, adding that Democrats are insisting on using billions of dollars to support unions and other organizations aligned with the party’s causes as part of the legislation.

Cassidy, the Republican leading a GOP Senate group’s efforts to reach a compromise with Democrats on the issue, told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that the two sides remain at odds over billions of dollars in spending for various projects he contends are unrelated to repairing critical physical infrastructure around the U.S.

“The amount of spending for roads and bridges is so slow and split over 50 states over five years. You’re not getting your bridge,” Cassidy said he tells supporters of the plan who believe that it focuses spending on local infrastructure projects.

“If you want to fix roads and bridges, come where Republicans already are,” Cassidy told Wallace, adding, “If you’re talking about spending hundreds of billions of dollars on public sector unions, we’re far apart.”

Cassidy was also questioned by Wallace on the issue of why Republicans are opposed to some of the measures in the bill, such as universal availability of prekindergarten programs, even if the provisions are unrelated to infrastructure.

In response, Cassidy argued that pre-K would be “run” by “teachers unions,” which he went on to blame for schools being closed during the pandemic. Many teachers unions stressed that in-person classes put teachers and students at high risk of dying from COVID-19.

“The president wants to give universal pre-K, run by the same teachers unions” that argued for school closures, Cassidy said on Sunday.

“Whether or not these programs benefit the people who need it, we don’t know,” he added.

Cassidy’s comments indicate that Democrats could be forced to pass the president’s infrastructure proposal through budget reconciliation, a procedural process that requires only 51 votes and would allow the party to ignore Republican opposition should Democrats suffer no defections.

Democrats have floated the possibility of doing so in recent weeks after the president’s COVID-19 relief package was signed into law using the same process.

Tags Bill Cassidy Chris Wallace Infrastructure Joe Biden
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