Why Ohio lawmakers disagree on Biden’s infrastructure agenda

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The infrastructure debate in Washington seems unending. Spectrum News has an update on where things stand and why Ohio lawmakers disagree.

What You Need To Know

  • Ohio Democrats are firmly behind President Joe Biden’s two-pronged infrastructure agenda
  • Most Ohio Republicans are against both proposals, but Sen. Rob Portman supports the one he helped write
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D) argues both packages are “common sense”
  • Rep. Bob Latta (R) said Republicans would be doing “the reverse” if they were in charge

Earlier this year, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) helped write a bipartisan plan that would spend $1.2 trillion on roads and bridges, broadband, water and more.

The U.S. Senate passed it in August, but the U.S. House hasn’t voted on it yet.

Ohio’s four Democrats in Congress are joining Portman in supporting it, but most, if not all, of Ohio’s 11 Republicans in the House plan to vote against it.

Congressman Bob Latta (R, OH-5) told Spectrum News he’s voting no because only $110 billion would be for roads and bridges, and the plan would add almost $300 billion to the deficit over 10 years.

“When people talk about infrastructure back home, they think, ‘oh, roads and bridges.’ Well we’re not talking about roads and bridges here,” Latta said in an interview.

President Joe Biden wants the package passed, but he also wants a separate spending bill passed that would focus on a long list of so-called “human infrastructure” needs like universal pre-kindergarten, free community college, expanding Medicare for seniors and investing in clean energy and affordable housing.

Democrats are pursuing this solo because all Republicans are opposed, in part because Democrats want to pay for it by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

It’s been stalled while moderate and progressive Democrats fight over the size of the bill, which might be shrinking from $3.5 trillion to closer to $2 trillion.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D, OH-13) told Spectrum News that he considers it necessary, no matter the size.

“This is not complicated,” Ryan said over Zoom on Oct. 5. “We’re paying for the whole thing and it’s going to put money in people’s pockets and help us out-compete China. This is about as common ground and common sense as it gets.”

There’s currently no timeline for when either of the packages will be voted on in the House.

Still, Democrats, like Ryan, are convinced voters will like if they both become law.

“I think once people hear what’s in it and start feeling it in their pockets, like they already have with the tax cut, this thing is going to be extremely popular,” Ryan said.

Republicans, like Latta, on the other hand, feel the opposite. He said if his party was in control, their priorities would be different.

“Well it sure is not what the Democrats are doing,” he said. “It’s just the reverse.”

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