GOP and Dems clashing over how to pay for infrastructure bill

D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (WOOD) — While Democrats and Republicans say they’re making good progress in reaching a deal to invest in infrastructure, a sticking point remains how the federal government will pay for the plan.

Lawmakers seem optimistic about reaching their goal to strike a deal by Memorial Day.

“We can get a bipartisan infrastructure bill pretty easily,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said. “The programs that the president wants are very similar to what Republicans want.”

But after meeting with Democratic President Joe Biden about his proposal last week, Republicans in Congress say they will not support a plan that raises taxes on corporations.

“We feel that the 2017 tax bill was so good for the economy that it shouldn’t be messed with,” Grassley said.

He said Congress should instead tap unused COVID-19 response funds, which he said could direct $600 billion to the infrastructure plans.

Not so, Democrats say. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said that while there are some leftover funds, it’s not nearly enough money to fund a massive infrastructure plan.

“That may not even take care of the state of Iowa,” Durbin said.

He said Republicans should get on board with a plan that doesn’t burden middle-class Americans.

“If you’re fully for infrastructure, tell us how you pay for it… They say we’re just dealing with user fees, like the Highway Trust Fund. The Highway Trust Fund is filled by the taxes that we pay at the pump for gasoline.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said his main concern is still just how many programs Biden included in the plan, many of which cover things not traditionally considered infrastructure.

“Do I support raising taxes to pay for a bunch of welfare spending? I do not,” he said. “If it’s about holding corporations accountable to actually pay their taxes and stop offshoring jobs, then count me in.”

Republicans are expected to introduce their own infrastructure proposal Tuesday.

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