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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, today joined “Squawk Box” on CNBC to discuss her priorities for rebuilding America’s infrastructure, ongoing negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, and ways both sides can compromise.
ON INFRASTRUCTURE PRIORITIES AND PRICETAG: “What I’d like to do is get back to what I consider the regular definition of infrastructure in terms of job creation. So that’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, including broadband into that, water infrastructure. We’ve already made our first step there in a bipartisan way through our committee. We have a bill on water and waste water infrastructure. It’s about $30 billion over five years and it works on some of the things that are aspirational in President Biden’s plan. So, I think the best way for us to do this is hit the sweet spot of where we agree and I think we can agree on a lot of the measures moving forward. How much? I would say probably into the $600 or $800 billion, but we haven’t put all of that together yet. If we’re going to do this together, which we want to do and is our desire, we’ve got to find those areas and take away the extra infrastructure areas that the president put into his bill like home health aides and school building and all of these kinds of things.”
ON DEMOCRATS’ PLAN TO RAISE TAXES: “I don’t think there’s going to be much appetite on the Republican side, for those of us who voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs bill in 2017, to raise taxes. Corporate taxes are a part of that. What we saw in 2020 pre-pandemic obviously was higher wages, more people working, people who had trouble finding jobs were finding jobs and moving up in the employment chain…we were having the desired results. We had trillions of dollars back into this country as a result of that. No corporate inversions. I don’t know why we would go back to that, and put our country in a position where we are not as competitive as we are right now.”
ON WAYS TO PAY FOR INFRASTRUCUTRE SPENDING: “So how do we pay for it? That is a huge question. We know the gas tax is a declining resource. We’re going to be looking at that actually in a hearing today. We’re going to look at Vehicle Miles Traveled as a possibility when you look at fleets or when you look at electric vehicles. We’re going to look at assessing electric vehicles for road usage even though they don’t pay into the gas tax. I think there’s probably some coronavirus dollars that are going to be left unspent or very difficult to spend. I think we should start cobbling that together. It’s going to have to come from a lot of different sources, but this is important. It is a job creator, I agree with the president on that, and we have to pay for it but we cannot raise taxes now when we are in such a precarious position moving out of this last year of the pandemic.”
ON CONCERN THAT ADMINISTRATION’S BIPARTISAN OUTREACH IS REPEAT OF COVID RELIEF NEGOTIATIONS: “I wouldn’t be being fully forthright here if I didn’t say that’s my concern. That it is going to be a march of folks going to the White House and us doing bipartisan work in our committees, and in the end it becomes a partisan instrument.”
ON HOW TO GET THINGS DONE IN A BIAPRTISAN WAY: “Where I think we can really score some wins here for the country is if we take the portions that we know we agree on and we move those through our committees like we are doing right now. Today, we’ll be working on the surface transportation part. And we make it robust. We incorporate aspects of climate change like we did in our last highway bill in terms of electric vehicles, resiliencies of materials, things that can withstand weather events. Those are areas that I think we have tremendous bipartisan agreement on. Let’s pull that together and if there are other things they want to do – they being the Democrats or the president…in a more dramatic fashion that can’t attract at least 10 Republicans, that’s their reconciliation vehicle. That’s what I would use to raise your taxes if that’s what they want to do or incorporate some more of the things that I don’t happen to agree with…the Green new Deal issues or social infrastructure issues. I think we can find this.”
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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