By Michael Bastasch
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to President Donald Trump detailing their demands on infrastructure spending.
Pelosi and Schumer will meet Tuesday with Trump to discuss a potential infrastructure package. The Democrats made it clear, however, they plan to use infrastructure spending to advance their climate change agenda.
“To truly be a gamechanger for the American people, we should go beyond transportation and into broadband, water, energy, schools, housing and other initiatives,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote in a letter sent Monday.
“We must also invest in resiliency and risk mitigation of our current infrastructure to deal with climate change,” the two Democrats wrote to Trump.
Trump reportedly wants $2 trillion to beef up U.S. infrastructure, including bridges, highways and roads, but the Democrats’ letter makes clear their priorities are different from the president’s.
In fact, the letter does not contain any mention of roads, bridges or highways, but instead urges Trump to “go beyond transportation” and include spending for climate change, housing initiatives, public health and “clean energy.”
Conservatives oppose Democrats’ demands for infrastructure spending, saying it would likely mean higher gas taxes that would be diverted from beefing up transportation infrastructure.
“Trump and Republicans in Congress would like improved roads,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said in a statement. “The Democrats want Trump to endorse higher taxes so Democrats could, once again, spend on everything except roads.”
“Every time Republicans have foolishly given Democrats money promised to roads — the tax dollars are found far away from roads and in the pockets of Democrat special interests,” Norquist said.
Schumer asked Trump in December to include a slew of climate concessions in any infrastructure plan, including permanent tax subsidies for green energy and electric vehicle tax credits permanent, more funding into green tech and hardening infrastructure against extreme weather.
Schumer wants to make climate change a top issue in the 2020 elections. It’s his counter to the Green New Deal’s botched rollout. Schumer wants to put Republicans on the defensive on climate change, an issue that’s traditionally not a top priority to voters.
The Green New Deal was introduced by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, both Democrats, in February. The Green New Deal calls for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years and vastly expanding the welfare state.
Markey tried to clear up some of the confusion over what’s actually in the Green New Deal, but in a recent interview with Vox the Massachusetts lawmaker outlined what Democrats had planned for infrastructure.
“We’ve also made it quite clear that if there is an infrastructure bill, we’re going to make it a green energy bill,” Markey said. “We’re going to be submitting amendments that ensure that bill has aggressive renewable energy resource and energy efficiency standards, and that there are higher and stronger standards for federal renewable energy procurement.”
“The federal government plays a big role, the Defense Department plays a big role, and they should be purchasing much higher percentages of electricity from renewable sources,” Markey continued.
Pelosi requested Tuesday’s meeting with Trump, according to Axios. It’s unclear if any infrastructure deal can be hashed out in the near-term.
Trump’s 2020 budget proposal calls for $200 billion in spending to leverage massive infrastructure build-up. The budget plan also includes targeted spending on rural road-building and bridges.
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