As the U.S. Senate prepared to approve a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Friday, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-3) advised against expanding the legislation to include non-infrastructure spending at an added cost of over $2 trillion at least.
The bill passed by a vote of 66 to 28, with 16 Republicans joining all Democrats in favor. Tennessee’s senators, Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, both voted against it. Blackburn has predicted that the full cost of the Democrats’ final infrastructure package could total over $5 trillion, well above the $3.5-trillion level the Democrats have said they hope to eventually reach. A recent analysis by the D.C.-based Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget forecasts a potential cost similar to the one Blackburn fears.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) has expressed interest in advancing the Senate-passed legislation in her chamber only once the Senate broadens the bill to a much larger plan using reconciliation. That route would avoid a Senate filibuster whereby 60 votes (i.e., all Democrats at least 10 Republicans) would be needed for passage.
Fleischmann praised the Senate for moving on a bipartisan bill that addressed many traditional infrastructure priorities, though he said depending on the Democrats to resist hiking the cost to $3.5 trillion or more through reconciliation “doesn’t give me a lot of strength or credence.”
“Right now, Speaker Pelosi is not using common sense,” Fleischman told Fox News host Dagen McDowell. “She wants a bloated bill, a bill that will literally work in everything from ‘social justice’ to every part of the left-wing agenda that the Democrats are trying to espouse into a transportation bill. The American people don’t want that; they want a roads-and-bridges bill that gets infrastructure going in America.”
The $1.2 trillion approved by the Senate includes $110 billion for roads and bridges, $73 billion for electric-grid improvements, $65 billion for high-speed broadband, $55 billion for drinking-water cleanliness, and $7.5 billion for electric-vehicle charging.
Among the items that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Democrats have discussed, including in a more massive “infrastructure” package, are an expansion of Medicare, free community college, and child-care aid.
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