House Democrats approved on July 1 a massive $1.5 trillion, 2,300-page “Moving Forward Act” that Republicans blasted as little more than a Green New Deal boondoggle disguised as a roads and highways measure.
“The more than $1.5 trillion proposal rebuilds U.S. communities with infrastructure and innovation that is smarter, safer, and made to last,” House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a statement prior to the final vote.
The measure was approved decisively by the House on a 233–188 vote. Three Republicans joined the majority Democrats in supporting the measure, while two Democrats voted with Republicans against the measure.
The measure includes $494 billion for surface transportation projects to fix “our crumbling roads and bridges,” as well as $130 billion to rebuild public schools in impoverished districts, $100 billion to “create or preserve 1.8 million affordable homes,” $100 billion for creating broadband access in areas that don’t now have it, $70 billion to encourage renewable energy development and use, and $25 billion for safe water.
The bill also includes $30 billion for hospitals “to increase capacity and strengthen care,” and $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service to “modernize postal infrastructure and operations, including a zero-emissions postal vehicle fleet, processing equipment, and other goods.”
Overall, the bill is intended, according to DeFazio, to encourage “the development of wind and solar on public lands and building a workforce for offshore wind.”
But Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the ranking minority member of the Transportation Committee, called the measure “the my-way-or-the-highway” bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), because Democrats excluded Republicans from the bill’s creation.
As the House began debate on the measure earlier this week, Graves said that “$2 out of every $5 surface transportation dollars—that’s $200 billion—is spent on heavy-handed Green New Deal requirements,” and he predicted the measure “is going nowhere” in the Republican-led Senate.
“There’s been so much uncertainty and unpredictability created by the COVID-19 pandemic across our nation,” he said in a statement. “What our transportation businesses and workers need right now is stability, but this partisan process and seismic upheaval of our federal transportation programs robs them of that. This bill does nothing to move us forward and that is truly a shame.”
Republicans did manage to win adoption of an amendment offered in Rep. Rick Crawford’s (R-Ark.) impassioned appeal to the House to revise the measure to bar state-owned Chinese firms from competing for U.S. renewable-energy projects.
DeFazio opposed the Crawford motion because the measure already has “the strictest Buy American provisions,” he said. He also suggested Republicans were being hypocritical in offering the amendment because President Donald Trump is “cozying up to China.”
But more than three dozen House Democrats joined Republicans to support the amendment, which was adopted on a 224–193 vote tally.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Twitter after the amendment vote, “Democrats were fine with handing out taxpayer money to Chinese state-owned companies in their massive $1.5 trillion spending bill. Republicans just put a stop to that by passing this commonsense amendment.”
During the House debate, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times that because they know “it will never become law, House Democrats buried a handful of good ideas under a mountain of bad ones, turning what should have been a vital, bipartisan bill into little more than a political football.”
Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) echoed Gohmert’s point of view.
“House Democrats didn’t bother to get any Republican input on this trillion-dollar wish list, and it shows,” he told The Epoch Times. “This bloated package contains increased taxpayer funding for key parts of the socialist Green New Deal, like unproven and unprofitable green technology, while increasing regulations on basic needs like the building of new roads.”
The Democratic proposal was opposed by a number of groups that normally support infrastructure measures.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials opposed the bill because, they said, “it unnecessarily turns back the clock on so many bipartisan surface transportation reforms previously agreed to by Congress.”
Also opposing the measure was the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents thousands of small long-distance commercial truck companies.
The truckers group said the bill will “destroy small trucking businesses in every corner of the country. Increasing the minimum insurance requirements … in the midst of a major economic downturn would be nothing short of disastrous.”
The Consumer Technology Association claims the measure “leaves the U.S. standing still on transportation innovation, while the rest of the world moves forward.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc