U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) that unanimously passed bipartisan infrastructure bills last Congress, spoke on the Senate floor today to continue calling on her Democratic colleagues to work with Republicans on a true infrastructure package. Ernst highlighted the egregious spending on far-left priorities included in the Biden administration’s current proposal, and urged compromise—noting that infrastructure is traditionally a bipartisan issue that should unite both parties.
Senator Ernst’s full remarks are below:
“When you hear the word “infrastructure,” what comes to mind?
“For folks across Iowa, it’s roads, it’s bridges, locks and dams, ports, waterways, and broadband.
“But according to the Biden Administration, “infrastructure” is now a buzzword that encompasses just about every item on the progressive wish list.
“As a result, the president’s “infrastructure” proposal takes a very sharp left turn by including everything from elements of the socialist Green New Deal to higher taxes on American workers.
“Some of my Democratic colleagues are even urging the President to include ‘a pathway to citizenship’ for millions of undocumented immigrants in the infrastructure package.
“How about we make the wall on our southern border infrastructure.
“Probably to no one’s surprise, once again, the Senate Majority Leader is plotting to pass the bill in a totally partisan process.
“And folks, we really need to pump the brakes.
“The Democrats are steering us the wrong way on this issue.
“Infrastructure is an issue that has always enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Congress.
“We may disagree on how much to spend or how to pay for the costs, but we all agree that maintaining and improving our roads, bridges, ports, and waterways is one of the most important roles of the federal government.
“There is no reason to drive us apart on such an important issue that typically brings us together and impacts all of our states.
“But President Biden is on a one way street to more gridlock.
“Only about five to six percent of the $2.2 trillion of the Biden proposal is dedicated to roads and bridges.
“The Biden plan spends less fixing potholes and repairing roads than it does on promoting electric vehicles and perks for the coastal elites that drive them.
“And you better believe this could have a devastating impact on Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel industries that support our state’s local economies.
“Even the liberal Washington Post is taking issue with the Democratic Administration’s claim that 19 million jobs will be created by the proposal.
“The real number is less than 3 million.
“Each job created by this so-called “American Jobs Act,” will cost our taxpayers $865,000!
“And because American workers will bear the brunt of the higher taxes in the Biden plan, that means lower wages.
“These costs are sure to give taxpayers road rage.
“Mr. President, there is no reason to take this radical left turn.
“Last Congress, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which I serve on, worked together to unanimously pass out of committee an important infrastructure bill to help fix our roadways.
“This highway bill provides us with a great starting point to move us forward in the right direction towards a bipartisan infrastructure plan.
“This five-year, $287 billion bill was the largest highway bill in history.
“And it was supported by senators from across the political spectrum who represented states from Vermont and New York to Alabama and Mississippi and, of course, Iowa.
“Hailing from a very rural part of Iowa, I am all for looking at ways to invest in broadband expansion, to support our roadways, and to make sure we have the right infrastructure in place to combat flooding in my home state.
“Those are true infrastructure needs, and ones that I believe would get strong bipartisan support in a 50-50 Senate.
“But by throwing in progressive policy wish list items and non-infrastructure related provisions, the Biden plan is headed down a dead-end street.
“The president needs to do a U-turn and start working with Republicans on a bipartisan roadmap for America.
“By putting aside the partisan pet projects – projects like the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project – and picking up where we left off with the unanimously bipartisan highway bill, we can steer the infrastructure bill into the passing lane under the Senate’s regular order.
“So folks, let’s come together and literally start building some bipartisan bridges.”