Appropriations Vice Chairman Leahy’s Remarks Today For A News Conference By Democratic Leaders On The President’s Infrastructure Proposals

Following are Senator Patrick Leahy’s remarks for a news conference in the Capitol Tuesday with Senate Democratic leaders, on the President’s infrastructure proposal.  Leahy (D-Vt.) is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Leahy’s statement follows:

In this country we don’t have Republican roads and bridges or Democratic roads and bridges.  Crumbling infrastructure isn’t a red state problem or a blue state problem.  It’s a nationwide problem.  We need to invest in our water systems, expand access to broadband in rural areas, and rebuild our schools.  The solutions should be forged across party lines, in the interests of each and every American, each and every community.

More than four months ago Senate Democrats put forward a $1 trillion dollar plan to do just that.  Our plan that would reinvest in American and create 15 million jobs in the process.  We invited the new President to work with us and with all Senators.  The answer?  There WAS no answer.  Just crickets.

President Trump campaigned on this very issue.  He promised a $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan, and he had a chance when he submitted his first budget to show he was serious about it.  But the budget he put forward doesn’t only walk away from that promise, it runs away from that promise.  The President proposes to invest only $200 billion in infrastructure over 10 years, far below the $1 trillion he promised on the campaign trail.

But it’s even worse than that.  When you look at the details, he pays for it almost entirely by an equal number of cuts to EXISTING road, bridge, and transit programs, including cuts to the Federal Highway Fund.  It’s a classic bait and switch. 

The private sector is not a magic solution here.  More toll roads and toll bridges may make money for wealthy investors on Wall Street, but they do not help rural America.  I can’t emphasize that strongly enough:  The President’s proposals are a nonstarter for Rural America.  They just won’t work in smaller states and rural communities.  And his budget does nothing to promote broadband, modernize our aging water and sewer systems, or invest in our schools.   

Senate Democrats have a real plan that offers real solutions, with real investments.  I hope we can work across the aisle to advance this plan.  Candidate Donald Trump made the American people a promise.  He may not be prepared to deliver on it, but we certainly are.

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