Sen. Young withdraws support for $1 trillion infrastructure bill

Todd Young at IBJ Oct. 10 2017
U.S. Sen. Todd Young of Indiana. (IBJ file photo)

While most of the bipartisan coalition seeking to push a $1 trillion infrastructure package through the U.S. Senate appears to be holding together, Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana withdrew his support Sunday for the pending legislation.

“While I’m eager for a bill that makes these investments,” Young said in written statement Sunday evening. “I’m also committed to doing so in a fiscally responsible way. Having reviewed the Congressional Budget Office’s estimated fiscal impact of this legislation as currently constructed, and frankly still not being comfortable with a number of the Democratic priorities contained in this version, I will vote ‘no.’ “

In recent days, Republican supporters of the bill have faced a barrage of criticism from the GOP’s most conservative voices, including President Donald Trump, as they try to derail the package.

Young, who is seeking re-election in 2022, did not address the criticism in his statement but said he will continue to work with lawmakers to improve the bill if it passes the Senate and moves on to the House for consideration. The measure would provide Indiana with nearly $7.9 billion for highways, bridges, water systems and broadband access.

“I intend to do what Hoosiers expect me to do,” Young said, “which is to continue working with my colleagues to improve this bill in hopes that the final product will be one I can support, because I sincerely believe we must address our nation’s infrastructure needs.”

Democrat supporters of the bill also have endured the complaints of liberals who say the proposal falls short of what’s needed to provide a down payment on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities.

Still, some 70 senators appear poised to carry the bipartisan infrastructure bill to passage, a potentially robust tally of lawmakers eager to tap the billions in new spending it will unleash for public works projects back home.

“This is something that brings this country together,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a lead negotiator. “We need the investment, let’s be honest.”

Senators hoisted the package over another hurdle late Sunday, easily clearing a remaining 60-vote threshold on a vote of 68-29, despite a few holdouts trying to run out the clock on debate and drag final passage to Tuesday. The measure would then go to the House.

“A very handsome, overwhelming vote,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The rare bipartisan momentum reflects a political power center that has sprung from the middle of the aisle in the narrowly split Congress. For weeks, senators have negotiated and shaped the package, overcoming partisan gridlock for a compromise with the Biden White House. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has pledged its own support.

Backed by Biden and a sizable coalition of business, farm, labor and public interest groups, the package is one of the biggest investments of its kind in years. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act seeks to inject nearly $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and other public works systems undergirding the nation. Some 20 Republican senators are poised to join Democrats in supporting support it.

“Look at the players,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. “These are not the fringes of both parties.”

Once voting wraps up, senators immediately will turn to the budget outline for a $3.5 trillion package of child care, elder care and other programs that is a much more partisan undertaking and expected to draw only Democratic support.

Despite the momentum, action ground to a halt over the weekend when Sen. Bill Hagerty, a Tennessee Republican allied with Trump, refused to speed up the process.

Hagerty, who had been Trump’s ambassador to Japan, argued for taking as much time as needed for debate and amendments, in part because he wants to slow the march toward Biden’s $3.5 trillion bill aimed at so-called soft infrastructure.

Trump called Hagerty on Sunday morning, said a person familiar with the call who requested anonymity to discuss it. Hagerty said later Sunday he was trying to prevent a “socialist debt bomb” of new government spending.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has so far allowed the bill to progress, calling the bill “a compromise.”

While Indiana’s Young has offered input on the bill, his Hoosier colleague has consistently opposed it.

“It is clear the pay-fors in this package are either phony or insufficient, and this bill is full of K street carve-outs, kickbacks, and pork,” Sen. Mike Braun said last week.

Senators have spent the past week processing nearly two dozen amendments to the 2,700-page package, but so far none has substantially changed its framework.

More amendments have been offered on cryptocurrency, defense-related infrastructure and to allow states to repurpose a portion of their untapped federal COVID-19 relief aid for infrastructure. But it’s unclear if they will be considered for votes.

Senators have found much to like in the bill, even though it does not fully satisfy liberals, who view it as too small, or conservatives, who find it too large.

An analysis of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office drew concerns, particularly from Republicans after concluding the legislation would increase deficits by about $256 billion over the next decade.

Unlike Biden’s bigger $3.5 trillion package, which would be paid for by higher tax rates for corporations and the wealthy, the bipartisan package is funded by repurposing other money, and other spending cuts and revenue streams. The bill’s backers argued that the budget office was unable to take into account certain revenue streams — including from future economic growth.

The House is expected to consider both Biden infrastructure packages when it returns from recess in September.

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18 thoughts on “Sen. Young withdraws support for $1 trillion infrastructure bill

  1. I do not recall that Senator Young voiced such concerns or objections when Donald Trump racked up trillions of dollars in debt. Wonder what caused his change of mind.

    1. It’s very simple. Donald Trump is embarrassed by the idea that someone else would actually make it infrastructure week, so unless Young wants to get primaried by whomever Trump decides will do his bidding, he must do what Dear Leader wishes.

      And Young figures the bill will pass anyway, so he can flip flop and come out against better infrastructure.

      Lot of courage on Young’s part. But, hey, he’s got his priorities. They’re just not the voters of Indiana.

  2. Politician placing a calculated political bet – passage is highly likely, so take the opposing position in a state that leans to the ideology of opposing. Won’t cost constituents anything when it passes and maintains the cloak of ideological purity for the politician, adding to his cred. Then, after it passes, claim credit for both the reinvestment in Indiana as well the “improvements” to the bill he personally accomplished. Disingenuous and politically shrewd simultaneously.

  3. This is exactly why Im starting to dispise politics.Way too much pandering to special interest and to their own political agenda as well as careers. Its never about the people or what the country really needs but always about getting in line with what the party wants.In this case what Trump wants!

  4. GOP didn’t care to be fiscally conservative under Trump. Deficit increased $7.8mm, the 3rd highest ever under a President. $4.8mm was pre-pandemic primarily from the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy. While I think the $3.5mm infrastructure bill is too much and I approve of moderate increases to taxes. the GOP is socialism for the rich. They need to cut out all the loopholes for the rich. Like the Roth IRA which allowed the Paypal to generate $5 billion in tax free value.

    1. Not following your logic on the Roth IRA. Government collects taxes on the money invested today…so how is this “tax-free”?

    2. and also the Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997 was signed by President William Jefferson Clinton. This created the Roth IRA.
      So how is this Trump’s fault Mark B?

    3. Mark S. I wasn’t blaming Trump for the Roth IRA rules. I was blaming Trump for the 2017 tax cut for the wealthy. My point on the Roth IRA is in addition to moderate increase in taxes for infrastructure , eliminate the loopholes like the Paypal guy used to create $5 billion of tax free money while investing virtually no after tax money.

  5. Todd Young and Mike Braun continue to legislate for everyone’s crazy uncle slinging conspiracy theories and racists remarks at family dinner. Keep up the terrible work boys.

  6. do not reelect Young or Braun. Compromise is how government should work. And, no bill is perfect. What pray tell does Young want and is his pet peeve important enough to deny the infrastructure improvements needed throughout the nation for all citizens. The key aspect is to ensure that areas and constituents receive the infrastructure elements appropriate and needs for their respective areas, be it roadways — such as the abysmal I-65 pavement and poorly designed freeway interchanges in Indiana — bridges such as the Brent Spence in the Cincinnati area, broadband in rural on other areas without powerful lobbyists, local streets and sidewalks (Indianapolis!), sewers and stormwater protection and control, water in parched areas and for agriculture, port modernization, transit (urban and rural). Some in Congress, such as Young and Braun, want to derail the process because they fell certain aspect of the bill are not worthy per their purview (but without any justification or analysis, so similar to vindictive bills promulgated by some at the Indiana Statehouse). Young and Braun must explain their choice and actions.

  7. An early version had increased funding for the IRS, with a crack down on the 7 and 8 figure annual income crowd who do not pay their fair share in taxes. Data shows that for every $1 added to IRS enforcement, it collects $8 in additional taxes. The Rs objected to that policy, which shows their support for the wealthy extends to the tax dodging rich. Young never mentions what he thinks of that idea or if he was one of the objectors. What a system, let McConnell be the only vocal supporter of tax dodgers while other Rs ride silently on his coat tails. If one gets discussed with politics, this is a good example of why.

    1. Prohibiting the IRS from going after tax cheats and evaders is one way the GOP seeks to reduce the size and reach of the federal government. After all, they believe, starve the government of funding (either through tax cuts that result in lower revenue or by tying the hands of the tax collectors) and the government will lack the necessary resources to do what it is supposed to do.

  8. All of the politicians don’t get upset over the millions spent on campaigns. All of that money could improve our country and feed many people who need help. But if we want to spend money to create jobs which relates to more tax income, they flinch. Just who do these people really represent? If Young is our Senator, then he needs to think in terms of what will truly benefit our state, not just his job.
    I would put MAJOR campaign finance and term limits as the utmost priority but those elected sure don’t want that!!!

  9. This what happens when real people don’t vote like they should!! Embarrassing nerd! You don’t represent us in ANY way!!!! Young or Braun! Or Holcomb!!! Get!!!!!!!

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