President Donald Trump threatened to veto House Democrats’ $1.5 trillion green infrastructure plan on Monday, arguing it should eliminate or reduce environmental reviews and doesn’t route enough money to rural America.
The bill contains billions to repair the nation’s desolate roads and bridges while setting aside funds for broadband, schools and hospitals. It would also require states to commit to reducing greenhouse gases and other climate measures in order to receive funding.
But Republicans have branded it as an iteration of the Green New Deal crafted without their input.
“This bill is problematic for several reasons. It is heavily biased against rural America. It also appears to be entirely debt-financed. And it fails to tackle the issue of unnecessary permitting delays, which are one of the most significant impediments to improving our infrastructure,” the White House wrote in a statement of administrative policy, saying the bill “is full of wasteful ‘Green New Deal’ initiatives.”
The veto message gives added fuel to Senate Republicans, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not expressed a willingness to bring the bill to the Senate floor.
The 2,300-page Moving Forward Act rolled out by Democrats this month is slated for a vote as soon as this week.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has called it “the largest tax investment in combating climate change Congress has ever made.”
But the veto message reiterated Trump’s interest in paring down the environmental reviews that accompany major projects, calling the delays caused by permitting “one of the biggest roadblocks to improving the nation’s infrastructure.”
The bulk of the Democrats’ infrastructure package is geared toward transportation measures that funnel money to public transit and would also require states to consider climate change when weighing projects.
“Those who don’t believe in climate change, tough luck. We’re going to deal with it,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio said when the bill was unveiled.
The White House memo called the bill “heavily skewed toward programs that would disproportionately benefit America’s urban areas” while appearing to be “financed solely by the government taking on additional debt.”
Democrats have not outlined how to pay for the bill, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed that “with the interest rates where they are now, there’s never been a better time for us to go big.”
Republicans have frequently complained they were excluded from crafting the bill, and the veto message repeatedly said Democrats failed to provide a bipartisan piece of legislation.
Trump “has repeatedly called on Congress to send him bipartisan infrastructure legislation. Unfortunately, H.R. 2 is not a serious proposal and fails to answer his call,” the message reads.