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Graves: Voting for this My Way or the Highway Bill is an Endorsement of the Speaker’s $6 Trillion Tax-and-Spend Plan

Washington, D.C., June 30, 2021 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) delivered the following remarks during today’s House Floor debate on the Speaker’s My Way or the Highway Bill 2.0 (H.R. 3684):

It’s Groundhog Day for infrastructure on the floor this week.  Exactly one year ago today, I stood here as we took up the Majority’s first “My Way or the Highway” bill.  That bill – just like today’s – was developed without working with Republican Members, and it was passed along mostly party lines. 

And then that bill died, forcing Congress to pass a one-year, short-term extension – something that we all know is costly and detrimental to our states’ ability to plan and carry out needed improvements.

Unfortunately, the Speaker has ignored the obvious lesson: that successful legislating requires partnership – not partisanship.  As a result, today’s bill is even worse than last year’s failed effort. 

This bill is completely unpaid for – something I have never seen in a highway bill in my two decades in Congress.  This is all deficit spending that will continue driving up what is already the highest inflation rate since 2008.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Earlier this year, our Committee’s leaders met with the President and I made it clear that Republicans wanted to be part of a bipartisan bill.  I have no doubt that we could have compromised in a way that met many of the Majority’s goals while still including Republican priorities from our proposal, the STARTER Act 2.0.

Far from being impossible, the Senate Committees have managed to do just that, finding common ground on commonsense project streamlining, flexibility for our state and local partners, and equitable treatment for rural America.

However, in order to appease the progressives in their party, the Majority showed no willingness to meet us anywhere in the middle, and instead moved their bill even further to the left.  Ironically, even that won’t be enough as Speaker Pelosi prepares another partisan effort that will completely overshadow this bill by pushing through a multi-trillion dollar tax-and-spend plan using budget reconciliation.

Now, under today’s bill, $1 out of every $2 is tied up in meeting the Green New Deal agenda.

This bill eliminates a ban on spending transit funding on art at transit stations.  It’s insane, given the infrastructure needs in this country, that this bill would waste critical infrastructure resources on buying art.

This bill significantly increases the size of government by creating 41 new programs.

This bill provides no regulatory reform to make project delivery more efficient and less wasteful.

And this bill ties the hands of states that need to build new roads and capacity – even if that’s their most critical need.

These are just a few examples of why this bill is bad for our country, but I could go on and on.

This partisanship is absolutely unnecessary.  The Senate EPW and Commerce Committees have overwhelmingly approved their own pieces of a surface reauthorization.

The Senate has also approved a bipartisan $35 billion water infrastructure bill.  But instead of following that example or using the bipartisan agreement we had on clean water infrastructure last Congress as a framework, the Majority again chose to walk away from bipartisanship.  This bill now also includes more than $170 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure – completely unrealistic and out of touch with the Senate’s bill and House Republicans. 

In fact, everything about this bill is out of touch.

Although the President currently supports a bipartisan infrastructure framework in the Senate, progressives in Congress have already declared that proposal dead on arrival without first getting their massive partisan wish list.

The Speaker and the far left are trying to hold infrastructure hostage in order to get their $6 trillion in other priorities through budget reconciliation.

The other side says all the spending in today’s bill is supposed to “transform” our transportation system.  It will certainly change one thing in transportation: your gas prices.  More deficit spending will only further fuel inflation and raise the price of gas, food, and other necessities.

Voting for this bill is an implicit endorsement of the Speaker’s overall strategy to ram through a $6 trillion tax-and-spend plan, and I encourage Members to vote against this bill and against this partisan process.