Show an ad over header. AMP

Inside Republicans' battle plan on infrastructure

Republicans' criticism of President Biden's infrastructure package isn't just about its cost, but also the definition of "infrastructure."

The big picture: Top Republicans aides tell Axios they learned their lesson after failing to successfully define Biden's coronavirus relief package. This time around, they'll try to convince voters the infrastructure legislation is more of a wishlist for progressives than a "roads-and-bridges" measure.


What they're saying: "Joe Biden’s 'infrastructure' plan is not really about infrastructure, it is another multi-trillion dollar far left wish list," declared an email from the Republican National Committee on Thursday.

  • The RNC is taking a narrow view of what constitutes "infrastructure" spending: "roads, bridges, waterways, ports, and airports."
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a similar position. Biden's proposal, he said on Wednesday, "would spend more money just on electric cars than on America’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, and waterways combined.”
  • A new memo from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says: "Biden’s so-called infrastructure plan spends less than 6 percent to repair bridges, highways, and roads. The rest is a 'kitchen sink' of wasteful progressive demands."
  • Several Republican offices have also been circulating a Wall Street Journal editorial, highlighting this passage: "First came $1.9 trillion in social spending under the cover of Covid-19, and now comes $2.3 trillion more for climate and political spending dressed as 'infrastructure.' ... Mr. Biden has proven to be the perfect political front for the Warren-Sanders agenda."

The big picture: In addition to hundreds of billions of dollars on traditional public works projects, Biden's proposal includes funding for workforce development, expanded long-term care under Medicaid, clean energy investments and affordable housing.

  • The White House's broader view of infrastructure was evident in a fact-sheet it released on Wednesday.
  • The proposal "will invest in Americans and deliver the jobs and opportunities they deserve," the statement said. "But unlike past major investments, the plan prioritizes addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice."
  • Some Democrats have gone even further. In the days before Biden released his proposal, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey called a sweeping infrastructure bill "a way of accomplishing many of the goals of the Green New Deal."

The other side: Some congressional Democrats and administration officials say GOP criticism is hypocritical, given Republicans' own past characterizations of ''infrastructure."

  • McConnell previously defined "infrastructure" to include energy projects—specifically the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Ohio Sen. Rob Portman singled out Biden's focus on workforce development as extraneous. But in 2019, he co-authored workforce training legislation titled the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills Act.
  • “If we are going to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, we are going to need a skilled workforce,” Portman said at the time.

Czech Republic expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 depot explosion

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbetice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Keep reading... Show less

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

Keep reading... Show less

U.S. and China agree to cooperate on climate action, but details remain to be negotiated

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

Keep reading... Show less

"We couldn't do two things at once": Biden defends not immediately raising refugee cap

President Biden on Saturday sought to explain why he didn't immediately lift the Trump administration's historically low refugee cap.

Driving the news: Several Democrats accused Biden Friday of not fulfilling his pledge to raise the limit after it was announced he'd keep the cap. The White House said later it would be raised by May 15. Biden told reporters Saturday, "We're going to increase the number."

Keep reading... Show less

Children of color in rural areas battle deep health care disparities

Living in the nation's poorest, most rural communities can be a death sentence for African American and Native American children.

Why it matters: Lack of health care and healthy food make Black and indigenous childrenin the nation’s most disadvantaged counties five times as likely to die as children in other areas of the country,the advocacy group Save the Children found after analyzing federal data.

Keep reading... Show less

How telehealth can narrow racial disparities

Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Racial disparities have been a constant problem in maternal health care, from rising death rates to the threat of severe COVID-19 among pregnant women. But now experts are hopeful that telehealth can help narrow those disparities.

Why it matters: It's not a complete solution to the racial barriers women of color face. But some experts are optimistic that telehealth — long-distance health care through videoconferences and other technology — can help reduce those barriers by offering flexibility in appointments and better access to diverse providers.

Keep reading... Show less

Capitol Hill's far right pushes Anglo-Saxon values, European architecture

Multiple far-right House Republicans have begun planning and promoting an America First Caucus aimed at pushing "uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions," Punchbowl News first reported.

The big picture: "The document was being circulated as the GOP is struggling to determine a clear direction as it prepares to try winning back control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections," AP writes.

Keep reading... Show less

Super Typhoon Surigae rapidly intensifies to a Cat. 5 near Philippines

Super Typhoon Surigae surged in intensity from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a beastly Category 5 monster on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 180 mph with higher gusts.

Why it matters: This storm — known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines — is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to undergo a process known as rapid intensification, a feat that studies show is becoming more common due to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories