Opening remarks, as prepared, of Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) from today’s markup of the Committee Majority’s contribution to the Speaker’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation spending spree:
Thank you, Chair DeFazio.
Today’s markup could be the most partisan one we’ve had so far this Congress, in what has been an uncharacteristically partisan 9 months for this Committee.
This divisive markup comes against the backdrop of the hasty evacuation of civilian and military personnel in Afghanistan that the Administration completely botched. We left behind billions in military assets to the Taliban, who made quick use of them against their adversaries. But that is nothing compared to the risk this Administration took with our military and civilian personnel during the evacuation, when lives were lost and others were left behind. Congress should prioritize the situation in Afghanistan until we bring home all Americans left behind.
And that’s not to mention the need to support the recovery from Hurricane Ida and other disasters across the country, including wildfires. These are only some of the issues that are more pressing and time sensitive than the Majority’s socialist tax and spending plan.
Having said that, we’re clearly going to proceed with today’s markup of the Speaker’s wish list, which is so reckless and expensive, Republicans will have no choice but to oppose.
This is similar to the infrastructure debate here in the House when Republicans warned against a package that was too expansive and expensive. However, those warnings were ignored, and Republicans were shut out. Yet, the Senate and White House heeded those warnings and were able to strike a deal by lowering the total cost and focusing on traditional infrastructure – roads, bridges, water, and broadband.
So it is no surprise that the House has been sidelined throughout this process, and now the Majority is going to try to make up for their lack of input on infrastructure through this $3.5 trillion spending bill.
Meanwhile, the Speaker has proudly held the Senate’s infrastructure bill hostage. It’s completely entangled with the reconciliation package, part of which we are marking up today. Even Democrats asked for an earlier vote on the Senate infrastructure bill – to clearly separate it from this multi-trillion-dollar package – but they didn’t get it because infrastructure is now just a Trojan horse.
The Speaker cares more about pleasing her ultra-progressives than about the toll this unfettered spending and inflation will have on Americans.
Prices have surged by 5% for each of the past three months. And inflation is expected to stay at 4% over the next three years. According to AAA, the average gas price is $3.18 per gallon – that’s almost 50% higher than a year ago.
Inflation has the biggest impact on low-income and middle-class families, and it’s gone up every month during Biden’s presidency. To continue down this path on reconciliation, when we know it will lead to more inflation, highlights this President’s broken promise to not raise taxes on lower and middle classes. Americans know that inflation is taxation.
Democratic Economist Larry Summers warned earlier this year that the Administration’s reckless spending plans being pursued in Congress would lead to a spike in inflation and damage the economic recovery from the pandemic.
When will the Majority say “enough is enough” and slam the breaks on this reckless spending?
Instead of working across the aisle to deliver on our country’s critical infrastructure priorities, we’re now facing a lose-lose situation.
Either the House gets sidelined again in this process because of the Speaker’s ultra-partisan approach, and because this package is full of provisions that violate both the Senate’s Byrd rule and the agreement by the President not to double dip on issues already litigated in developing the Senate infrastructure bill. Or – if the Speaker gets her way – the Majority and the President will have rammed through almost $7 trillion of spending in just 9 months, much of it along party lines. That’s in addition to the nearly $6 trillion spent in 2020.
These numbers are scaring everyone. We know it’s given some key Senators pause, and now Senator Manchin is stating that he won’t vote for this package. Furthermore, the majority of Americans support pumping the brakes because this level of reckless spending will lead to more inflation, more taxation, and more economic stagnation.
I urge opposition to today’s reckless spending spree. Thank you.
Click here for more information from today’s markup, including live video.
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