WASHINGTON–The infrastructure deal that failed on a test vote this week may fail on the real vote, said Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican, who said he doesn’t believe his fellow Republicans will go for a deal that doesn’t include what he calls “honest pay-fors”, or ways to pay for the improvements without much borrowing.
“It’ll boil down to, Whether for most Republicans to come along, how you’re gonna pay for it,” he said, in a Thursday call with reporters. “Things like spending unspent COVID money would probably fit into that category. A lot of soft stuff, we talked about spending more with the IRS to collect more money.”
Braun said if he were to write the bill himself, he’d take some cues from Indiana. One idea is to raise the federal gas tax.
“The gas and diesel tax has not been increased since 1993 out here. We need to be taxing electric vehicles. Those are hard pay-fors.”
Indiana increased the gas tax in 2017 to support an infrastructure plan for the state. The state also taxes electric cars.
But, Braun said he does not have much faith that by the time the Senate is ready to vote on the current $1 trillion plan, that there will be enough public-private partnerships, or any of the other hard pay-fors he’s called for, for he or other Republicans to vote yea.
“‘Til everyone of us on our side of the aisle scrutinizes it closely about how hard the pay-fors are and then how you get around the fact that we’re gonna have $3.5 trillion spent on soft infrastructure, it’s gonna be too close to call.”
Braun said he believes that the federal government has come nowhere close to proving it can be fiscally responsible in his eyes. He often cites his experience running businesses in the private sector, saying government should be held to the same standard and prove its worth by showing a balanced ledger, which it cannot do, with the U.S. going for a $30 trillion debt.
In the same call Braun said he believes Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) being rejected from the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Capitol attacks shows that the committee will not be balanced.
“The fact that he is not (on the committee) tells me that it’s gonna be constructed in a way that’ll lose credibility,” he said. “This to me has a lot of political overtone to it and Speaker Pelosi has shown that by trying to have the ability to approve who would serve on it on our side.”
Braun said he believes the FBI is doing a good job investigating the attacks, with more than 550 arrests, thus far, including seven people from Indiana.