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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, joined “PBS News Hour” last night to discuss the latest on infrastructure negotiations on Capitol Hill.
ON LATEST INFRASTRUCTURE TALKS: “What I’ve been interested in looking at is where the job creation aspects of what we consider traditional infrastructure is. That is roads and bridges, but it’s also broadband now. It’s also our waste water and safe drinking water facilities. It’s broader than just a roads and transportation. $115 billion [Biden proposal for roads and bridges]…I haven’t looked at it specifically but it is probably within the ballpark of where I could be supportive, yes.”
ON POWER GRID IMPROVEMENTS BEING PART OF INFRASTRUCUTRE PACKAGE: “I think obviously we saw over that storm that we had, certainly what happened in Texas and certain instances in California and other states that we have grid problems. We’re bleeding a lot of energy off the grid. I think modernization of the grid is something we could look at if we went a little broader in an infrastructure package. It’s not something I think of as traditionally formulated, every five year infrastructure package that we’ve done in the past, bipartisan, but I certainly think it bears looking into and I’d keep an open mind there as well.”
ON BIDEN ‘INFRASTRUCTURE’ PROPOSAL INCLUDING WORKFORCE TRAINING, HOME HEALTH AIDES: “This is where we begin to really separate I think in our visions of where infrastructure can and should be and where I think as a United States, under the unity pledges of the president, I think we’re going to fall apart. When we look at workforce development, we have numerous workforce development programs. We have a lot that we funded in COVID. Let’s deal with those where they should properly be dealt with under Labor and other kinds of appropriations. The same thing with home healthcare. I’m a great believer in home health care but that’s not what I consider traditional job creating infrastructure packages where we’re modernizing moving people, moving goods, and really modernizing our economy.”
ON AMERICA’S FUTURE INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS: “Well, that’s why I think broadband is a part of infrastructure now. I think if we look at what’s happened during this pandemic when we see so many people commuting to work or children learning online or delivery of telehealth. That to me makes the argument that I’ve been trying to make very vociferously over the last five years that we have a great digital divide in this country. That to me is an infrastructure gap that needs to be closed. I think that we have some like identities on this. He talks about some high-speed rail projects. Those are things that are well worth looking into. But let’s not go away from where are able to do the job creation, boost the economy, and get a lot of people back to work at the same time, and then have our modernization of our airports, our waterways, more broadband. These are where our core functions should be focused at the moment.”
ON PAST NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE WHITE HOUSE: “I was in the meeting with the group of 10 and the president was very engaged in that meeting and very much pledging to again come together in an area where we’ve had great consensus on, which was COVID relief. But the next day Leader Schumer is talking about reconciliation, which is a nonstarter for all of us Republicans for the most part. So we did feel, I wouldn’t say burned…I think lessons learned here. I think you see a little tip-toeing on our part in terms of how aggressive is the White House actually going to negotiate. I always thought when you negotiate you come from two different positions, and both people move. That didn’t happen. We moved as a group of Republicans. The president never moved and basically left us in the dust.”
ON INCREASING THE CORPORATE TAX RATE: “I voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. And we got much of the desired results during those years before the pandemic. We had more people in West Virginia working, higher wages, more minorities, more women, younger people working. And so we were on a trajectory, I think, of really fully realizing the effects of those tax cuts. We had over a trillion dollars come back into this country that was repatriated because of the lowering of the corporate rate. So, I don't want to see us go back to raising taxes to where we're going to stagnate, possibly, the progress that we have made.”
ON IF SHE IS RULING OUT RAISING THE CORPORATE TAX RATE: “For me, yes. And I think this is another thing I think that, strategically, if this is the direction the president wants to go, put that in his reconciliation package if he has the vote, and let that fly. I think that if we could just find a big and robust bipartisan effort here, which we can — I know we can, because we're working it through my committee right now — I think it'll give the American people the confidence that it's not broken there, they're on their way to working together like we know they can do.”
On February 11, Senator Capito met with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other Senate infrastructure leaders at the White House to discuss the nation’s transportation and infrastructure needs. U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined the meeting by phone.
Senator Capito’s full statement following that meeting can be found here.
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