Bipartisan infrastructure plan: 'If this is a take it or leave it...I'm going to leave it,’ Rep. DeFazio says

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Oreg.) — the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — blasted the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure framework in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday.

"If this is a take it or leave it on the House side, I'm going to leave it," said DeFazio.

Moderate senators and the White House struck a deal on $579 billion in new spending on infrastructure and broadband — but the agreement faces an uncertain future. On Tuesday evening, negotiators were still working to finalize the plan ahead of an expected procedural vote on Wednesday.

DeFazio told Yahoo Finance he's concerned about House Democrats being left out of the discussion. If the Senate ultimately passes the plan, DeFazio will push for changes in the House.

Earlier this summer the House passed DeFazio's $715 billion transportation and water infrastructure package — the Invest in America Act — and DeFazio argues the bipartisan plan lacks many of the priorities included in the House bill.

"We passed a transformative transportation bill that met the goals set by the White House. That is to deal significantly with climate change, create new programs for social equity, for transit deserts, underserved communities, rejoining communities split asunder by freeways," said DeFazio. "Most of those things are lacking in the Senate proposal."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. talks to reporters about his plans for a procedural vote tomorrow on the bipartisan infrastructure deal at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. talks to reporters about his plans for a procedural vote tomorrow on the bipartisan infrastructure deal at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A 21st-century infrastructure bill

DeFazio argues the bipartisan plan doesn't do enough to fight climate change and focuses too much on highways — instead of investing in alternatives like rail, cycling and pedestrian safety.

"My bill deals with all those things. Their bill doesn't. Those things have to be in a 21st century bill. I'm not going to do 'Eisenhower 8.0' and repeat the mistakes of the last century," said DeFazio.

"I want states, before they engage in massive expansion of highways, to look at alternatives that might better serve the people in that state, that city or that region — which won't be fossil fuel-polluting, single-occupancy vehicles jamming up the road," he added.

While centrist senators try to finalize the bipartisan plan, Senate Democrats are also working on another $3.5 trillion package they plan to pass with only Democratic votes. Republicans are warning against the plan saying it will only fuel inflation.

"I don't believe this is going to be a sustained threat. The Federal Reserve doesn't believe it's a sustained threat. Treasury doesn't believe it's a sustained threat. Only the Republicans do. They've been carrying on about inflation forever, but it hasn't happened," said DeFazio.

Jessica Smith is chief political correspondent for Yahoo Finance, based in Washington, D.C. Read more:

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