Blackburn blasts infrastructure bill because it doesn't fund Trump's border wall

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Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) says she'll offer amendments to the bill to fund the wall and a canceled oil pipeline project.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said Sunday that she is "not inclined" to back the bipartisan infrastructure bill worked out by the White House and members of the Senate.

Blackburn urged that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act be changed to include a canceled tar sands oil pipeline and a massive border wall.

Appearing on Fox News, Blackburn vowed to try to amend the package, which includes $550 billion in new investments in transportation, water system, energy, and broadband infrastructure, on the Senate floor.

"I do have a couple of amendments I think would be very appropriate: If you want shovel-ready infrastructure, build the wall. If you want shovel-ready infrastructure, restart the Keystone pipeline. Those would be two good ways to move forward," she argued.

Blackburn said, "I am not inclined to vote for this, if it is the same as what I saw when I left on Friday," arguing, "Most Tennesseans are just like me  in that they are very pro-infrastructure, when it comes to roads and rails and rivers and runways and broadband, high-speed internet. What they do not want to see is their hard-earned tax-payer dollars wasted on ... things like the Green New Deal, subsidies for electric vehicles. ... They don't want money to go to growing the size of the union."

"The keystone pipeline is infrastructure," Blackburn tweeted on Sunday night.

According to a White House fact sheet, the bipartisan package would help working families by "creating good-paying union jobs, tackling the climate crisis, and growing the economy sustainably."

It does not contain the Green New Deal, though it would invest billions in the electrical grid, clean drinking water, and electric vehicle infrastructure.

The Keystone XL pipeline is a now-dead proposal by a Canadian company to build a tar sands oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would link up with other active pipelines to carry crude oil to refineries in Texas.. Environmental advocates fiercely opposed the plan, warning that it would increase the rate of global warning and be highly susceptible to dangerous leaks.

While construction of the pipeline would have provided work for many temporary employees, the State Department estimated the project would create just 35 permanent jobs after it was completed. The project was officially canceled in June.

The wall on the border between the United States and Mexico, initially pushed by then-candidate Donald Trump in his 2016 campaign, also appears to be a dead project. During the campaign, Trump promised to quickly build the wall during his first term and to force Mexico to bankroll the entire investment; neither of those things happened.

After Mexico refused to pay a cent, Trump diverted billions of dollars appropriated for military families and construction to pay for the wall. Still, just five miles of new wall were built during his tenure, while 302 miles of wall replaced or reinforced existing fencing.

President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats ran for office in 2020 on their opposition to both projects and won. Shortly after taking office, Biden called a halt to construction of Trump's wall and canceled Keystone's permit.

The White House estimates that the infrastructure plan, combined with the trillions of dollars in other investments Democrats hope to pass through a separate budget reconciliation deal, could add 2 million jobs each year.

Polls have shown that the bipartisan infrastructure framework is highly popular. A July Navigator Research survey found 66% of American voters, including a 46% plurality of Republicans, back the plan.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.