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GOP Senators Balk At Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Senate Republicans are pushing back against President Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure spending push, warning that it's too "rich" and would be a "heavy lift" for Congress, according to The Hill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been warning over a surging federal deficit – insisting that the top priority should be the reauthorization of a $287 billion Highway Trust Fund instead of passing another expensive coronavirus relief bill.

Trump's plan would set aside money for roads, bridges, rural broadband and 5G wireless. Of note, McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, is Trump's Transportation secretary.

Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders say they'll approve a $500 billion surface transportation bill, of which Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says his panel will need to find a way to pay for $93 billion.

Asked about a news report that Trump is getting ready to unveil a new $1 trillion infrastructure spending proposal, Grassley said whatever bill Senate Republicans come up with “could be a lot less.

At the very least, the Senate GOP plan “won’t be over that,” he added.

If the House and Senate are able to pass their respective surface transportation bills, the final measure — and the ways to pay for it — would be ironed out in conference. -The Hill

Trump's $1 trillion plan, meanwhile, would be a "heavy lift" according to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), a member of the Finance Committee. 

Given the difficulty of coming up with ways to pay for a $287 billion highway bill, a $1 trillion infrastructure initiative would likely add significantly to the federal deficit, which the Congressional Budget Office projects will reach $3.7 trillion in 2020.

A $1 trillion plan from the administration would double the $500 billion green infrastructure bill that House Democrats rolled out earlier this month. -The Hill

Mike Enzi (R-WY) – Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee who also sits on the Finance Panel, says that the priority should be directly addressing the coronavirus pandemic – noting that a large portion of the $2.2 trillion CARES act, along with $484 billion in interim coronavirus relief legislation which passed in April, has yet to be tapped.

"For the last few days I’ve been talking about not paying for the national parks’ infrastructure. A trillion is a lot more than the $17 billion we’re talking about there," said Enzi, referring to the pending Great American Outdoors Act.

"Nothing we’re doing right now is fiscally responsible," he said, adding "I’m much more inclined to stick to solving the virus problem."

In late April, McConnell began pushing back against the idea of tacking an infrastructure component onto the next round of coronavirus relief legislation – telling Fox News at the time: "Infrastructure is unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic that we’re all experiencing and trying to figure out how to go forward," adding "We need to make sure that whatever additional legislation we do is directly related to this pandemic."

Trump's $1 trillion election-year infrastructure package was first reported by Bloomberg, which 'largely caught GOP Senators by surprise,' according to The Hill.

When Trump tweeted in late March that he wanted a “VERY BIG & BOLD” infrastructure package costing $2 trillion, Republican senators mostly ignored the request.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), another member of the Finance panel, said the administration is going about it backward by coming up with a $1 trillion price tag before laying out what it would be spent on.

You don’t start with the price tag. You start with what it is you want to accomplish and figure out what that is. Seems to me to be the opposite way to approach this by starting it with how much money you’re willing to spend,” he said.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), also a Finance Committee member, said “the trillion dollars may be a little rich.

But Portman said there are potential areas of common ground.

“I think there are areas where we can do something. Rural broadband is very popular among many of my colleagues,” he said. -The Hill

According to Rob Portman, there are ongoing disagreements over how to bankroll the Highway Trust Fund reauthorization, which was on the Senate's schedule before the COVID-19 pandemic after the Environment and Public Works Committee approved the bill in July.


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