Congressional Republicans say only roads and bridges count as infrastructure — but also that President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan should include Donald Trump's failed wall.
Congressional Republicans are belittling Democrats for including human infrastructure in their $2.25 trillion infrastructure package. But their narrow view of what infrastructure entails apparently includes spending more taxpayer dollars on one Donald Trump's more infamous immigration policy failures.
Last week, President Joe Biden unveiled his $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan, which includes massive investments in roads, bridges, water, transit, broadband, and other key priorities, such as child care and caregiving infrastructure.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) tweeted on Wednesday that the provisions meant to support families are just as relevant. "Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure," she wrote.
Republicans quickly pounced, suggesting these did not count.
"Roads are infrastructure," answered Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas.
"Important? Yes. Infrastructure? No," replied Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin. "This is how we’ve accumulated a national debt of $28,000,000,000. Meanwhile, border security barriers are ACTUALLY infrastructure."
Mullin embedded a definition of infrastructure that called it "the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise." That definition would appear to undermine his own argument, as each of these are necessary organizational structures for society.
"Bridges are infrastructure. Roads are infrastructure. Highways are infrastructure. And yet, bridges, roads, and highways only make up 6% of Biden’s $2T 'infrastructure' plan," wrote Colorado Rep. Ken Buck.
Buck and other Republicans have falsely claimed that only the portions of the proposal funding roads and bridges should count as infrastructure.
A Washington Post fact-checking piece on Monday noted that those claims exclude the bill's funding for rail and water systems that are unquestionably physical infrastructure and were even part of Trump's infrastructure proposals. It also observed that "In English common usage, the definition of 'infrastructure,' or at least 'public infrastructure,' has grown over time to encompass new inventions such as electricity, railways and, more recently, broadband pipes and fibers."
But several Republicans are suggesting any infrastructure investment should include an item from the far right's wish list: Trump's uncompleted massive southern border wall.
Trump's son Don Jr. reacted to Gillibrand's tweet by opining, "I don't think any of those things are infrastructure, but you know what is??? THE WALL."
"Border barriers are infrastructure," concurred California Rep. Darrell Issa on Wednesday.
"Border walls are actually infrastructure," said Illinois Rep. Mary Miller.
"Will money be allocated for finishing Trump’s border wall in the Infrastructure package? A border wall makes a lot more sense in an 'Infrastructure' plan than the Green New Deal," Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on Tuesday.
As a 2016 candidate, Trump promised to quickly build a wall along the entire southern border and falsely vowed that he would get Mexico to pay for the entire project. He claimed that he would complete 1,000 miles in two years and that Americans wouldn't pay a penny of the $10 billion cost — but none of that happened.
After Mexico refused Trump's demand, he siphoned most of the money from funds allocated to military families and construction, claiming he could do so under "emergency" powers. By the time he left office in January, he'd spent $15 billion to replace about 440 miles of existing fencing and build just about 12 miles of new wall. Biden halted the project shortly after taking office.
Despite the GOP's opposition and mockery, a poll released Tuesday suggests the public is strongly behind the infrastructure plan in general and the caregiving portions in particular.
According to Data for Progress and the pro-infrastructure group Invest in America, 73% of likely voters — and 57% of Republicans back the American Jobs Plan. The "care economy" provisions enjoyed the support of 74% of those polled.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.