Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) is concerned about the cost to Tennesseans if the federal $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill are voted on and passed next week.
“A lot of this stuff doesn’t even have to do with traditional infrastructure,” said Burchett, who represents the 2nd Congressional District in east Tennessee surrounding Knoxville.
Burchett said it feels like Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, know they are on the way out and are trying to make a deal before they get hurt by this spending in midterm elections.
“I just think they’re out of touch, this leadership, the Democratic leadership,” he said. “They’re sacrificing a lot of their moderate members,” forcing them “to take these tough votes that they really shouldn’t have to do. It’s short-sighted on their part, but I think it goes deeper than that. Pelosi knows she’s on the way out and she’s got to cut a deal and this is her legacy in some liberal utopia.”
When the infrastructure bill passed the Senate last month, it was touted by Democrats as a plan for much-needed infrastructure improvements throughout the country.
“It’s been a long and winding road, but we have persisted, and now we have arrived,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said on the Senate floor before the vote. “There were many logs in our path, detours along the way, but the American people will now see the most robust injection of funds into infrastructure in decades.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has opposed the bill, and a group of Democratic House members have said it will vote for the infrastructure bill only if the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act passes first.
Burchett said he wishes the federal government operated more like Tennessee, with a balanced budget and caption bills, which authorize spending for specific items without any add-ons.
It’s the “pork” that bothers Burchett with the infrastructure bill, as $550 million is targeted toward hard infrastructure Burchett would support, such as roads, bridges, dams and drains.
“There’s $256 billion that’s going to add to the debt,” Burchett said of the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate. “At this pace, what does that even matter anymore? It matters to people like me. It matters to people in Tennessee.”
Burchett singled out the $7.5 billion earmarked for electric vehicle charging stations along highways, saying that type of subsidy is competing against private businesses such as Tesla and would create a convenient opportunity for “murderers and thieves” to prowl at the charging stations late at night.