Congressman David Kustoff isn’t thrilled with President Joe Biden’s proposal to spend upwards of $2 trillion on infrastructure in the United States.
Kustoff, the Germantown Republican who represents Henry County and the rest of West Tennessee (outside of Memphis) in the U.S. House of Representatives, visited Paris Tuesday and shared his issues with Biden’s plan.
The sheer cost of the plan seems to be the major problem that Kustoff and other Republicans in Washington have with it. But he made it clear there’s a disagreement about the very definition of the word “infrastructure.”
“What West Tennesseans think of as infrastructure are things like roads, bridges, asphalt, airports, broadband,” Kustoff said.
“Out of all that money proposed in the president’s bill, only about $600 billion of it is going toward what we call infrastructure.”
Kustoff thinks there’s not even one Republican in Congress who will vote in favor of Biden’s plan as it is now constructed.
Among the items causing heartburn among the GOP is the spending on climate initiatives, including what Kustoff called “mandates” on electric vehicles. Biden’s proposal calls for a $174 billion investment in the electric vehicle market, including giving tax incentives and sales rebates for customers who buy American-made electric vehicles, and providing incentive programs for public and private entities to build some 500,000 chargers for electric vehicles by 2030.
“First of all, have they asked whether people in West Tennessee are ready to give up their current vehicles?” Kustoff asked. “People have to want to get electric vehicles in order for that to work.”
He pointed out that, while filling up with gasoline now might take 3-5 minutes, it could take about 40 minutes to charge up an electric vehicle at a charging station.
“Can you imagine someone from Paris driving to Nashville for two hours, then having to charge up their vehicle for forty minutes? And that’s if they don’t have to wait in line,” he said.
Two other problems with the electric vehicle plan, according to Kustoff, is a current lack of charging stations — “we’d need a whole lot more of them,” he said — and a likely shortage of minerals that are used to make the batteries for such vehicles.
In general, Kustoff is somewhat moderate on climate issues.
He described himself as being somewhere in the middle ground between “the sky is falling” and the “complete deniers.”
“But this particular goal can be reached for a whole lot less money than what’s being proposed,” he said.
STIMULUS PLAN LEAVES SOUR TASTE
The fact the infrastructure plan has come on the heels of a $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan, which provided relief in the battle against COVID-19, including stimulus checks to citizens, has not been received well by Congressional GOP members.
“There was not one Republican who voted in favor of that stimulus plan,” Kustoff said. “The president has been partisan since we started this session, which is a much different tone than what he had said, that he was going to seek unity and bipartisanship.”
Kustoff also touched on a $25 million initiative, which was passed in this fiscal year, to battle the Asian carp issue, which has affected Henry County greatly because of its proximity to Kentucky Lake.
He said that money will be used on research efforts as well as eradication of the invasive fish species.