House Republicans are accusing Democrats on the transportation committee of "double dipping" by seeking to fund certain infrastructure provisions with their expansive budget reconciliation package in violation of President Joe Biden's promises.
The Democratic-led House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee began marking up its $60 billion portion of the Build Back Better Act on Tuesday, considering spending billions on rail, highway, and port infrastructure projects — the sorts of projects Republicans on the panel say were already hashed out and resolved in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure project that passed the Senate last month.
Democrats are using the process of budget reconciliation to pass trillions of dollars in spending to support liberal policy priorities that Republicans oppose. The process allows them to marshal through legislation with a simple majority instead of 60 votes.
During negotiations on the bipartisan package, Biden committed his party to not using the reconciliation process as a means of rehashing funding for the type of physical infrastructure items addressed in the Senate deal. However, Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio said he would look for a way around it.
Provisions the House Transportation Committee is considering for the reconciliation package include $2.5 billion in Port Infrastructure Development Program grants to support supply chain resilience and reduction in port congestion. The already-passed bipartisan infrastructure package funds the program with $2.22 billion, although it does so over a longer period of time — through 2036 rather than 2031, as the panel seeks to do.
The committee's proposal also includes $10 billion in grant funding to the Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization, and Emissions Reduction Program to support public high-speed rail projects. The Senate's agreement includes $36 billion in support of a joint federal-state Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail, which funds high-speed rail.
Other items in the transportation committee's markup include funding for wastewater infrastructure and FEMA’s hazard mitigation revolving loan fund programs, which the Senate bill would fund.
Republicans charged committee Democrats with shirking Biden's guideline with the various provisions, including items looking to curb carbon emissions.
"The president explicitly said, 'We're not going to double dip.' This is double dipping," Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana said Tuesday, pointing to the committee's work on the House's partisan infrastructure bill. "The bill that this committee passed out and passed through the House floor 40 different programs ... related to this very thing — to reducing emissions, focused on the transportation sector."
"The Senate bipartisan bill effectively ignored [them]," Graves added. "But they chose one, and it's already in their bill. It actually has a chance of passing, so this would be double dipping."
Republican amendments seeking to strike the high-speed rail provision — as well as a provision providing $50 million to the Federal Highway Administration to set mandatory greenhouse gas performance targets and another establishing $10 billion in funding for a new transit program — were rejected.This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.
DeFazio previously challenged the notion his committee would be held to Biden's double-dipping pledge and offered an alternative definition.
"I didn't sign that agreement," DeFazio said in August. "In fact, I don't believe anybody in the majority in the Senate, except for a couple of senators, signed off on that agreement. We are working with the White House to see if there are ways around it."
"I'm looking at creating new programs that are not the same as the ones that were funded there ... There are projects proposed in a number of major cities in America where the high-speed rail would go into the city center," he added. "That's not in the Senate bill. So I think that's a new program, it's a different program. It's not double dipping."
The Washington Examiner reached out to DeFazio's office and the transportation committee majority's office for comment.
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/gop-accuses-house-democrats-breaking-233300714.html939