Senate Democrats complain about, cast doubts on Biden’s infrastructure proposal

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., speaks with reporters as he arrives for a hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., speaks with reporters as he arrives for a hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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UPDATED 1:06 PM PT – Monday, June 14, 2021

Even Democrats in the Senate appear to be unhappy with Joe Biden’s trillion dollar infrastructure proposal. For instance, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) recently said he wants to see more on climate change in the proposal while Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said he is “unsure” if he can support this much spending. Other Democrats have said more focus should be shifted on “protecting voter rights.”

In order for the proposal to pass, Biden must either get a bipartisan group in Congress to pass a more moderate version of the bill with less spending or the bill can be passed with just 50 votes using budgetary reconciliation.

Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is pushing a new bipartisan infrastructure proposal reached last week by a group of senators. During an interview Sunday, the Maine moderate called the framework of the proposed package “targeted” and “responsible.”

“We are focusing on the traditional infrastructure definition: roads, bridges, airports, seaports, waterways, highways, broadband and I think that makes sense,” she stated.

The Biden administration initially proposed $400 billion for elderly care and another $200 billion for childcare to be incorporated in any new infrastructure package. Collins noted that these issues should be considered separately.

Fiscally conservative Republicans are skeptical on how a bill with a price tag of $1.2 trillion over eight years will be funded. The bipartisan group claimed they have laid out a three-fold plan that would be fully paid for and will not impose any new tax increases. Collins pointed out part of the plan would be paid for by redirected COVID-19 relief funds.

“As second would be to repurpose some of the COVID funding that has not been spent in the $1.9 trillion package that was enacted in March,” stated the Maine lawmaker. “There were restrictions on what the funding could be used for. It could be used for water, sewer and broadband. We would make it more flexible, so it could be used for infrastructure projects.”

Collins said in lieu of a gas tax increase, the bipartisan plan will subject electric vehicles to new fees. The senator pointed our that electric vehicle owners should “pay their fair share of using our roads and bridges.”

Though the bipartisan group has strived to lay out an infrastructure plan that would appeal to both sides of the aisle, there are progressives who critics have said are simply not interested in compromise and want to bypass Republican votes. Despite this, Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he does not want to see the process abused like this and has proclaimed his desire for a bipartisan resolution.

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Amber Coakley
Author: Amber Coakley

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