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Rep. Davis says Pelosi, Schumer not for bipartisanship on infrastructure plan

The Biden administration's plans to spend hundreds of billions to address climate change as part of the latest infrastructure package has been likened to The Green New Deal proposal released by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., in 2019. Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois serves on the transportation and infrastructure committee and joins us now to elaborate.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And for a Republican perspective on infrastructure, Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois joins us. He serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

    Congressman Davis, thank you so much.

    First of all, your overall reaction to this proposal?

  • Rep. Rodney Davis:

    Well, could be a lot better.

    I'm concerned about the investments, or lack thereof, in certain areas of our infrastructure in this country that needs to be replaced, needs to be fixed. The secretary of energy was correct. There are areas of bipartisanship.

    But, unfortunately, it seems that the administration and, more importantly, I believe, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi are choosing to take a partisan route, rather than working with us on those areas of agreement.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, we heard Secretary Granholm, and, in fact, we heard the president say that, if you have ideas, they want to hear them.

    And we even heard her say they're willing to look at — if Republicans come to the table with other proposals, look at maybe moving this into more than one bill.

  • Rodney Davis:

    Well, I offered my suggestions, as did Ranking Member Sam Graves of the Transportation Infrastructure Committee, a couple of other Republicans, those who have a tremendous bipartisan record since we have since we have been serving in Congress.

    We were in the Oval Office with the president, with Vice President Harris, with Secretary Buttigieg. And we implored the administration, do not use reconciliation.

    I do believe that the administration, the president and Secretary Buttigieg especially, they would rather be bipartisan. But I don't think Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi want to use any process other than the reconciliation process.

    And that's why we have a bill that is spending more in its initial — in the initial proposal to add a division within the Department of Commerce than they are investing in every single port, waterway, lock-and-dam system and airport in the nation in their proposal.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, I didn't ask Secretary Granholm about that.

    But you may have heard her say that Republicans she speaks with — and perhaps she was even talking about you — she said they all tell us they are interested in fixing the electric grid, addressing the problems that we know the country has when it comes to infrastructure, and in making sure that the country is prepared for the future when it comes to energy challenges.

    So, I guess I'm hearing two different things here.

  • Rodney Davis:

    Well, one of the reasons why China, in the words of the administration, is eating our lunch in manufacturing is because they're trying to get to a point where they have cheap energy costs, like we do here in the United States.

    I certainly would like to invite Secretary Granholm to come to my district. She mentioned we need to buy more wind turbines here in the United States. Absolutely, we do. Buy them in Clinton, Illinois, right in the middle of my congressional district. You can come to my district, and you can see wind. You can see solar.

    You can see the demonstration project funded by the Department of Energy on carbon sequestration. The problem is, we still have to have baseload generating capacity. That means our nuclear facilities that actually have zero emissions, just like the one in Clinton, Illinois.

    We also need to make sure that we don't de-invest in baseload generating capacity through sources like coal, which the carbon sequestration demonstration project is demonstrating that we can burn cleanly.

    We cannot run the American economy on wind and solar alone. You can't run the company who's helping to fund the carbon sequestration project in Decatur, Illinois, on wind and solar alone. We need those baseload generators. And I look forward to working with the secretary and making sure she has the opportunity to see this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what I hear the administration saying is that they understand this isn't going to happen overnight; it's a process that they know we are going to be moving toward for the good of the country in the future.

    But it sounds like you're saying, Congressman Davis, that you're prepared to talk to the president, to the secretary, and to others to see if there's common ground. Am I hearing you correctly?

  • Rodney Davis:

    Absolutely. We all are on our Republican side.

    I just got off a conference call with GOP membership. Ranking Member Graves mentioned that we ought to be able to sit down and work in a bipartisan way. Our leader, Kevin McCarthy, said the exact same thing.

    We may not be given the chance, though. I was honored to be able to go over to the White House and be in the Oval Office with President Biden and his team and talk about infrastructure. But the proof is going to be in the pudding. And we need to make sure that Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer get the message that we ought to be bipartisan, rather than using the reconciliation process, which will mean that the Democrats will negotiate amongst themselves.

    And this plan, as we see it today, will get even worse than it is.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, the — again, as you know, the administration is arguing, if we don't begin to take these steps now to address climate change, then the United States can't be at a point in the future where it needs to reduce carbon emissions. There will be a point of no return.

    And if steps are not taken right now, beginning steps, early steps, then the U.S. can't be where it needs to be. But, again, it sounds like they're prepared to — they want to work with Republicans in order to get there.

    I guess my question to you is, do you agree these early steps need to be taken?

  • Rodney Davis:

    Well, I disagree with the premise that the Democrats want to work with Republicans.

    I believe Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer are pressuring the administration not to work with Republicans. I don't think that's Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg, and Jennifer Granholm's first step. But I think it's the cards they have been dealt by their leaders in the House and the Senate.

    But let's not forget, too, Judy, we can't just automatically believe the climate hysterics that many Americans here in this country want to talk about. We can't forget that America is the only industrialized country that would have met our Paris climate accord emission control standards.

    We are leading the way in the United States. And for many here in America, in politics, to not give America credit for what we're already doing to reduce our carbon footprint and, at the same time, not crippling our economy and killing good-paying American jobs right here in Central Illinois, we have got to make sure that we talk about what's good and what is happening positively along that front in America, not just doom and gloom that comes from many that I serve with.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, as I said to Secretary Granholm, it is just the beginning of this debate. But it — I think everyone welcomes hearing both sides and welcomes knowing that the two sides are going to be talking to one another.

    Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

  • Rodney Davis:

    Thank you, Judy.

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