Republicans hammer Biden on infrastructure while administration defends plan
GOP lawmakers on Sunday made it clear that they were not satisfied with President Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill as members of his administration advocated for the measure as a necessary investment.
Biden detailed his infrastructure package during his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday, calling it a “once-in-a-generation investment in America itself.” However, Republican lawmakers remained skeptical of the bill’s provisions.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that Republicans and Democrats remain “far apart” when it comes to the infrastructure plan. Cassidy is the GOP lawmaker currently leading efforts to reach a compromise with Democrats.
The Louisiana senator criticized the proposed bill as being spread too widely across the country to be effective.
“If you want to fix roads and bridges, come where Republicans already are,” Cassidy said. “If you’re talking about spending hundreds of billions of dollars on public sector unions, we’re far apart.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s remarks on Sunday likely did little to quell such concerns, saying she believed it was “safest” for the U.S. government to pay for the proposed plan.
While appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Yellen said both she and Biden believed that “permanent” spending increases should be accompanied by revenue increases to meet their costs.
“I think it’s true that a stronger economy will generate more tax revenues, but I think the safest thing is to pay for them, and we’re doing it in a way that’s fair,” Yellen added.
GOP Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) lambasted the bill for the “trillions and trillions of dollars of reckless spending.”
“When I look at this, this is a staggering amount of spending, like someone with a new credit card, and these are for things that we don’t necessarily need, we certainly can’t afford, but they’re going to delight the liberal left of the party,” Barrasso said while appearing on ABC’s “This Week.”
Barrasso also expressed his dismay with what he called a “cradle-to-grave role of government” that would be put in place with this bill that would expand access to affordable child care and make community college free.
“It’s almost creating an addiction to spending,” Barrasso said.
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), a moderate Republican who is known for reaching across the aisle, also criticized the amount of spending in the bill but said she was willing to see what the administration’s counteroffer was to the infrastructure proposal sent by Republicans.
“That’s the amount that we spent to win World War II,” Collins told CNN’s “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper. “So this is an enormous package when you take both the traditional core infrastructure parts and the huge expansion of social programs that the president is advocating.”
Collins made it clear she would not compromise on the proposed 28 percent corporate tax hike, saying it would encourage jobs to be taken overseas. The Maine Republican said she believed it was “premature” to look at ways of funding the bill when the final amount had not been agreed on.
Cecilia Rouse, chairwoman of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, defended the bill against claims such as those made by Collins, touting the bill as necessary while in the midst of a historic recession.
On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked Rouse how this bill would not cause jobs to be moved overseas.
“Of course we don’t want to hamper U.S. competitiveness. To the contrary,” Rouse said, pointing out that the proposed tax rate would still be lower than what it was before President Trump’s 2017 tax cut. “We don’t want to hamper U.S. corporations, but we want them to pay their fair share as well.”
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