McConnell cautions against ‘artificial timetable’ rushing infrastructure vote
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The congressional Republican Study Committee on Monday blasted the Senate’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure bill as a “Trojan horse” for Democratic social spending and “Green New Deal” initiatives.
In a memo titled “Top 10 Infrastructure Package Roadblocks,” the group’s chairman, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), offered his 154-member conservative caucus a litany of talking points against the bipartisan agreement announced Sunday night.
No. 1 cites an analysis by the conservative Club for Growth, which found that only $110 billion are earmarked for roads, bridges and other construction projects “that the American people generally consider ‘infrastructure.’”
Banks’ memo calls the bill a “Trojan horse” intended to help sneak what he called a “radical” agenda of President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi through Congress, citing the California Democrat’s recent vow that tied its fate to that of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan being pushed by congressional Democrats.
“I won’t put it on the floor until we have the rest of the initiative,” Pelosi told ABC’s “This Week” on July 25.
Under the reconciliation process, certain measures regarding revenues, spending and the debt can be approved with a 51-vote threshold, which is why Democrats are pursuing it. The process allows them to bypass a near-certain filibuster from Republicans and pass the spending measures without a single Republican vote.
Banks’ memo says that $66 billion in planned spending on passenger and freight rail “builds on the Green New Deal plan to replace air travel with trains” and would “help fulfill [the] vision” of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-The Bronx) by massively expanding Amtrak while eliminating its accountability to taxpayers.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Sunday night’s agreement by a bipartisan group of 22 senators a “good and important jumping-off point” but said Democrats shouldn’t adopt an “artificial timetable” for its passage.
“Senators on both sides expect and deserve opportunities to have a say and to put their own states’ imprints on this major bill,” McConnell said during a floor speech Monday.
“Just as infrastructure itself is not a luxury, but a necessity, the same goes for the Senate having a robust and bipartisan amendment process on legislation of this magnitude.”
Last week, McConnell surprised some GOP senators by helping to advance the measure during a procedural vote after having said in May that “stopping” Biden’s administration was “100 percent of my focus.”
Banks — who Pelosi blackballed from the select committee that’s investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol — says that the 2,702-page bill “pushes” the liberal “social justice” agenda by using the word “equity” 64 times.
He also says the legislation would give “woke” regulators the ability to decide “where and when broadband expansion occurs,” citing a provision written into that bill’s “Digital Equity Act of 2021” that bars discrimination based on “gender identity” and which was highlighted on Twitter by the American Principles Project, a conservative political action committee.
“This should be a deal-breaker for Senate Rs,” the APP tweeted.
The memo mockingly suggests that the bill “fixes ‘racism’ in highways” by noting how Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in April told the website “The Grio” that roadways in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC, were “built at the expense of communities of color.”
“There is racism physically built into some of the highways, and that’s why the jobs plan has specifically committed to reconnect some of the communities that were divided,” Buttigieg said at the time.
Banks also says that a plan to spend $15 billion on charging stations for electric vehicles, as well as electric buses and other mass transit, overwhelmingly favors people who live in “blue” — or Democratic — cities.
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