Keller leery of infrastructure bill content

October 19, 2021
In The News

LEWISBURG — Why drug prices seemed so high under the current system were among the topics brought to Congressman Fred Keller (R-Pa. 12) at a Monday night town hall-style meeting.

Lenora Russell said she received a bill from a health care provider nearing $25,000 for a drug she took twice a month. Other wording in the bill made it seem like she had received a $400 service she had not.

Keller replied that there was a bill under consideration which would prevent drug companies from unethically protecting patents thus preventing lower price generic prescription drugs from reaching the market. It was similar to a bill introduced in a previous session.

Keller opened the meeting by decrying the size of the infrastructure bill now in Congress. A question from the audience later asked if portions of it could be repealed when the majority in Congress shifts back to Republicans.

More likely, Keller projected, was cutting the duration of some elements of it. Among them, raising the corporate tax rate, a carbon tax, money for a “climate corps,” making union dues tax deductible and removing state and local tax caps.

What could be done if a president was not apparently abiding by his oath of office was asked. Among them, security of the southern border and corresponding illegal drug trade were cited as failures of the administration.

Keller said impeachment was only thing Congress could do but was not going to happen. He suggested highlighting policies people did not agree with, being involved as citizens and being a respectful opposition.

A question of whether a national strike would alert lawmakers of the displeasure of citizens was downplayed. COVID-19 policies, bottlenecks at ports and vaccine mandates were were among the issues which most irked an audience member.

Keller responded to the notion that the federal government would bail out people who willingly “struck” as poor policy. But he agreed that employees who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 should not lose their jobs because of it.

Keller opened the meeting by noting that president and speaker of the House had combined the current infrastructure bill and a reconciliation measure to total about $5 trillion. However, he said less than half of the infrastructure bill contains measures to support roads and bridges, waste water systems, broadband internet expansion and related areas.

Faith and trust in the process, Keller said, would be aided if bills were given straight up or down votes rather than being inserted into other bills.

He noted that the two-month extension to the debt limit was also part of a rules for debate measure set for later this week. Keller said he was willing to begin debate on the process itself.