Senators split on infrastructure proposal

Published 8:59 am Tuesday, April 6, 2021

WASHINGTON — Ohio’s U.S. senators offered differing view on Wednesday regarding President Joe Biden’s proposal for spending on the nation’s infrastructure.

Democrat Sherrod Brown said he backed the American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion package which the White House said would create jobs and invest in improvements to U.S. infrastructure.

Brown’s office said in a news release that the president’s plan would also improve affordable housing, school facilities, manufacturing and skills training, and more and said the senator applauded the proposal.

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“This plan rebuilds American infrastructure by putting Ohioans to work at good-paying jobs that cannot be shipped overseas, and positions America to lead the world in the industries of tomorrow,” Brown said. “This is an investment in the Ohio towns, neighborhoods, and homes that have been overlooked by Washington and Wall Street for too long.”

Brown said he believes the nation “must invest in the people and the communities that make this country work,” and he looks forward to working with the Biden Administration to make the proposal a reality.

Brown’s office said that parts of the package that were key to his support were funds to fix highways, rebuild bridges, and upgrade ports, airports and transit systems, deliver clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid, and high-speed broadband, revitalize manufacturing, secure U.S. supply chains, invest in research and development, and provide job training.

Republican Rob Portman, however, took issue with the cost of the package and urged for Republican input on the proposal.

“I support improving America’s aging roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure. And we can do so in a bipartisan way,” Portman said. “Last Congress, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved bipartisan infrastructure legislation by a vote of 21-0, but the hard work on how to pay for it remains.”

Portman said the current proposal is more costly than the last package.

“This bipartisan approach last Congress totaled $287 billion, yet the Biden plan introduced today costs more than $2 trillion,” he said. “At its core, the president’s plan calls for a $620 billion investment in transportation infrastructure. However, the total soars to $3 trillion with its inclusion of these broad policy priorities that are a far cry away from what we’ve ever defined as infrastructure.”

Portman also took issue with the raise in corporate taxes proposed to fund the package.

“To pay for part of this massive new spending package, President Biden proposes steep new taxes on businesses which will hurt working families and last more than a decade,” Portman said. “This is the wrong approach, and will only undermine our economy at a time when we are beginning to recover.”

He said tax cuts, passed by Republicans and the Trump administration four years ago had economic benefits and should serve as the model going forward.

“The pro-growth policies put in place by Congress through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, which provided middle-class tax relief to families and made our tax code more competitive for our businesses and workers, led to one of the best economies in our nation’s history,” Portman said. “It resulted in 19 straight months of wage growth over three percent for the first time in over a dozen years.

The U.S. hit a 50-year low in unemployment and the national poverty rate was the lowest ever recorded since the statistic started being tracked more than 60 years ago.”

Brown, however, said that the proposal would be funded by “ensuring this country’s largest corporations pay their fair share in taxes and are encouraged to create jobs here at home.”

His office pointed to a study that found that 91 Fortune 500 companies paid $0 in federal taxes on U.S. income in 2018, and that the average corporation paid just 8 percent in taxes.

Brown’s office said the senator has been advocating for major corporations to “pay their fair share for years, and believes they should be encouraged to invest in workers here in the U.S rather than shifting jobs and production overseas.”