By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Both Republican Congressmen representing northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas voted against the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill that squeaked to passage this morning in the U.S. House of Representative.
The House voted 220 to 213 to move the measure being pushed by President Joe Biden to the Senate, after delaying the vote for weeks while House Democratic leaders persuaded reluctant members to support the social spending and climate initiative measure.
Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves and Eastern Kansas Congressman Jake LaTurner also voted against the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law earlier by President Biden.
Graves, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says the House passed an opportunity for a bipartisan infrastructure package when Democratic leaders removed the bill from the committee process.
“You know the sad thing about it is, is infrastructure is one of the easiest things to pass in Congress, because infrastructure is something that government should do and should do well,” Graves tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post.
Both Graves and LaTurner object to the price tag of the infrastructure bill.
“For me, it’s really simple,” LaTurner tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post. “It needs to be about real infrastructure in a way that a normal, average person would define real infrastructure and it has to be paid for.”
Graves says Republicans and Democrats on his committee had moved close to an agreement on the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intervened.
“When Speaker Pelosi took over the process it ended all working together,” according to Graves.
It also grew.
“It went from about $400 billion or $350 to 400 billion up to $1.2 trillion, added all these other things in it, and there’s no ‘pay for.’ There’s absolutely no ‘pay for,’” Graves says. “So, we’re just borrowing the money. It’s too much. It has to end.”
That has spilled over to Graves’ assessment of the Build Back Better legislation, which even though pared down from the original price tag of $3.5 trillion still clocked in at $1.75 trillion. And Graves insists that doesn’t reflect its cost.
“They’re creating a lot of new ‘quote-unquote’ temporary programs,” Graves says. “Well, temporary programs never go away. They just continue.”
As for LaTurner, he believes some Democrats got cold feet, due to the cost of the bill, which delayed it coming to the floor for a vote.
“I suspect that more moderate Democrats, and there aren’t a lot of those, but the more moderate Democrats have got to be looking at this and thinking is something that is smart for me to do?”
LaTurner believes Democrats could pay a price at the polls.
“If you are a Democrat in a marginal district without question you are very concerned about what happened in the Virginia governor’s race or the New Jersey governor’s race,’ LaTurner says, referring to a Republican upset in Virginia and a closer than expect race in New Jersy. “You realize that the voters don’t support all of these progressive items.”
LaTurner says Congress cannot keep spending on the current pace, because it is adding too much to the federal debt.
The Build Back Better bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate.