LaHood points at Democrats for delaying votes on an infrastructure package and raising the debt ceiling
Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria blames Democratic congressional leaders for holding up votes on raising the debt ceiling and passing an infrastructure package.
During a Monday appearance in Peoria, LaHood said the attempt to link a $1 trillion infrastructure bill for transportation system upgrades to a $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” package could doom the spending entirely.
“We could have got this done a long time ago, if (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi would have brought the hard infrastructure bill to the floor,” he said, adding he’s unsure if there’s any path to a compromise. “Unfortunately now, what I call the socialists and the radicals in Washington, D.C., have held it hijacked. So I don't know, I don't know how it looks.
“We should have passed this last week and it would be the law of the land, and we’d be fixing our roads and bridges.”
Earlier this year, LaHood said he preferred to see the cost of the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan to land between $800 billion and $1 trillion. He said there are aspects of the package he favors.
“When I look at that bill, I like the fact that we don't raise the federal gas tax, so it doesn't raise taxes on motorists,” he said. “Secondarily, it goes to hard infrastructure: roads and bridges and rail systems. It goes to locks and dams on the Illinois River right here. That's what we should be spending money on.”
LaHood also pointed across party lines at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for not yet approving a raise to the debt ceiling.
“We can't default on our debts and our obligations as a federal government,” he said, adding he anticipates a debt ceiling vote will pass by the Oct. 18 deadline. “The Democrats control the Senate, they control the House, they control the White House. They have the ability to pass this; the House has already passed (raising) the debt ceiling, (and) the Senate Democrats ought to do that right now. They shouldn’t be playing games with the economy of the U.S.”
President Joe Biden said the debt limit needs to increase to afford Trump administration tax cuts already approved by Congress. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the Democrats to use the reconciliation process to raise the debt ceiling, a move Schumer has resisted.
LaHood said he fundamentally disagrees with raising taxes on small businesses, farmers, and individuals making $400,000 a year to social infrastructure as the economy tries to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
“I don't think coming out of a pandemic, we ought to be raising taxes on working families, and that's what this bill does,” he said. “We can have a debate. But this (bill) spends a lot of money on social programs: free childcare, free college tuition, free public housing. We can debate each one of these things, I just don't think spending more money (and) going further into debt, that it’s the right time to do it right now.”
LaHood said the country’s debt is already at $29 trillion, and putting more federal dollars into the economy would trigger more inflation.
“I'm all for helping people that are down on their luck that need support,” he said. “But when I look at the record amount of spending, I just don't think that's the right direction for the country right now.”