Rep. Fred Keller to Newsmax: 'A Huge No' on Infrastructure Bill

October 20, 2021
In The News

Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., told Newsmax that he was ''a huge no'' vote on the proposed $1.2 trillion infrastructure package going through Congress.

''The infrastructure package is more of the same [Democratic spending],'' Keller said on Tuesday's ''American Agenda.''  ''More than half of it doesn't even go for what we would consider infrastructure. That's a huge 'no' [vote from me].''

While Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the House 220-212 with three vacancies, the Senate is evenly split 50-50, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote, meaning that Democrats can lose only a few votes if they hope to pass any legislation.

Progressive Democrats want to see the infrastructure bill go to the floor of the House at the same time as a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill containing several key components of their agenda, including expanding Medicaid and Medicare, free prekindergarten, free community college tuition, and items designed to address climate change.

They say they may withhold support for the infrastructure bill if the larger bill is cut or voted on separately.

Moderate Democrats in the Senate, namely Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, say they won't support the larger bill unless it is reduced, and may even vote down the infrastructure bill if that does not happen, effectively killing both.

President Joe Biden hosted Democrats from both sides at the White House on Tuesday to try to negotiate a solution.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the meetings in the morning and afternoon were ''showing progress'' with the progressives and moderates coming together.

''These are serious policy discussions, often on nitty-gritty details, and they aren't duels between factions of the party,'' Psaki said. ''There's broad agreement, actually, about the vast majority of issues here.''

Keller said the problem is what is being defined in the bill as infrastructure, and that a large part of the money would go to fund other items instead.

''Let's call infrastructure, infrastructure. We can agree that it is roads, and bridges, and water treatment, wastewater treatment, freshwater utilities,'' he said. ''We can agree on broadband internet access. We can agree on those things. Let's not put all the other things in this bill. There's $400 million in it for Medicaid expansion. That's not infrastructure.''

A small number of Republicans in the Senate initially agreed to support the infrastructure bill on its own, but pulled that support when Democrats refused to separate the bills during the legislative process.