The chances of a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure spending seem increasingly unlikely following news that President Joe Biden walked away from ongoing negotiations with Senate Republicans.
Further muddying the issue is a recent Breitbart report suggesting that U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NY) revealed the true intention of a massive infrastructure bill lies in funding efforts to combat climate change instead of addressing traditional projects like road and bridge repairs.
“Really important for the country”
His remarks came during a recent town hall event and seemingly vindicated a number of GOP critics who have denounced Biden’s proposal as a way to force through a progressive agenda.
The two-term New Jersey Democrat plainly admitted that many items included in the proposal are not directly tied to any infrastructure project.
Malinowski argued that “some things that probably most people would not think of as infrastructure but that many of us think are really important for the country” deserved to be in the bill.
With an offer tipping the scales at nearly $2 trillion, Democrats are asking for far more money than most Republicans are willing to concede.
A number of GOP lawmakers have signaled support for a narrower spending plan that would tackle upgrades to the power grid, roads, bridges, and other traditional infrastructure needs.
“Very robust and targeted”
For his part, Malinowski shared his belief that climate-related spending would help direct his state and others away from fossil fuels. Breitbart said such a program could cost New Jersey 142,000 jobs while increasing energy costs substantially.
The president ended bipartisan talks this week with a Republican group led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The GOP offered a $928 billion package, which was significantly higher than the party’s initial proposal.
“While I appreciate President Biden’s willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept the very robust and targeted infrastructure package, and instead, end our discussions,” Capito said in light of impasse.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that Biden was also disappointed in the result.
She said that the GOP’s position resulted in a failure to “meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs.”