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Iowa’s Republican U.S. senators say Democratic President Joe Biden has failed to act on one of his biggest campaign promises: to unify the country and reach across party lines.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, led a “pre-rebuttal” on the Senate floor Wednesday ahead of Biden’s first joint address of Congress.
Ernst blamed Biden and Democrats for ignoring bipartisanship and instead working in a partisan manner to reverse the previous administration’s “successful” policies, including halting the construction of the border wall and stopping deportations for 100 days.
Ernst and Republicans have argued the reversal of former President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies has led to a migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Since then, the president and his Democratic allies in Congress have used a partisan process to fast track trillions of dollars of new spending for their pricey pet projects,” Ernst said. “Despite the president’s calls for us to listen to one another, the Democrats are planning to yet again fast track another $2.2 trillion package being sold as an infrastructure bill.”
Republicans have criticized the bill, balking at Biden’s wide-ranging interpretation of what is considered infrastructure. The proposal includes funding for child care facilities, electric vehicles and affordable housing, for example.
Ernst painted Biden as captive to the “far left” wing of his party, arguing his infrastructure proposal focuses less on roads and bridges and more on parts of progressive Democrats’ sweeping Green New Deal proposal to remake the economy and dramatically cut carbon emissions.
“And then right after that they want to ram through another $1 trillion for so-called ’human infrastructure,’” Ernst said.
The Biden administration revealed the president will pitch a $1.8 trillion investment over 10 years in children, families and education.
The plan consists of roughly $1 trillion of investments and $800 billion of tax cuts. It would direct hundreds of billions of dollars toward child care, paid family and medical leave, tuition-free community college and more. Funding would come through a series of tax increases on the wealthy that would raise about $1.5 trillion over a decade, according to the White House.
White House officials insist tax increases would not affect anyone earning under $400,000 per year.
“This is traditional Democrats (wanting) to spend, spend, spend — or another way to say it is … tax, tax, taxing,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said on a conference call with Iowa reporters Wednesday ahead of Biden’s address.
“Oftentimes, I have voted to increase social spending so I can’t say everything he’s got in that package might not have some legitimacy, but the number just scares the heck out of me,” Grassley said.
Grassley, too, told reporters that he hoped to hear the president outline a clear commitment to bipartisanship in pursuing the remainder of his agenda.
Biden has yet to reach a compromise with Republicans on any major legislation, including the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which passed earlier this year with no GOP votes after failing to reach a deal on a scaled-down relief package.
The White House and Democrats, however, blame Republicans for the lack of cooperation in a deeply divided Congress.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn, in a statement, argues the Biden administration “has finally delivered the leadership we need to recover from the pandemic.”
“Today, we’re getting vaccines into arms at a record pace and Iowa families, small businesses, and communities have the relief they need,” Wilburn said. “Iowans have overwhelmingly supported the American Rescue Plan and the critical investments it makes in our communities,” and Biden’s infrastructure proposal would lead to “historic investments that will repair Iowa roads and expand broadband across in the state.”
Wilburn added: “We can’t let political games jeopardize our recovery from this pandemic, but that’s what Iowans have come to expect from Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley.”