Utah’s two Republicans senators continue to make their cases for and against the massive bipartisan infrastructure and jobs package as a final vote looms in the Senate Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Sen. Mitt Romney took to the Senate floor Sunday to counter what he says is misinformation about the bill, including the price tag. He also encouraged fellow Republicans to get on board or let the Democrats do it themselves at a much higher cost.

“If you don’t like this bill, what bill do you like instead? What would you do instead? President Trump’s $1.5 trillion bill? How would you pay for that one?” he said, referring to former President Donald Trump’s proposal to repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Formally called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bill is a key part of Biden’s agenda. It calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years above projected federal levels, making it one of the biggest expenditures on the nation’s roads, bridges, water systems, broadband and the electric grid in years.

The proposal was not “slapped together” but carefully considered, Romney said.

The Senate voted 68-29 to end debate on the bill Sunday. It is expected to pass when it comes up for a final vote.

Romney said there’s confusion over the cost of the legislation, saying it amounts to $550 billion above what the government normally spends, not $1.2 trillion. In addition to not having to raise taxes, the bill is paid for, he said.

Sen. Mike Lee doesn’t see it that way.

“There are a lot of people that would benefit in a lot of ways from it. But there is a huge problem with it: it is not paid for,” Lee said at a press conference in Washington, D.C., last week.

Lee said the nation is in a time of “great inflation brought on by a period of almost unfettered, unrestrained federal spending.”

“This bill would spend a staggering $1.2 trillion. It would yet be another inflation bomb in an economy that already has been carpet bombed by other inflation bombs,” he said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculated that nearly half of the new spending — $256 billion — would be financed by adding to the nation’s debt from 2021 to 2031.

Romney doesn’t dispute that but said the other half, which the CBO can score because it’s already been appropriated but not used, is also paid for by real dollars. He argued that letting those dollars go back to the Treasury to reduce the deficit will never happen because the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget plan — which he dubbed the blue whale — would “surely grab all of that money and everything else that comes along.”

“It’s soft and it’s blue. But ours is going to be used for real, hard infrastructure. Of course it’s about one-seventh the size of the blue whale, and I might call it the roadrunner by comparison,” Romney said.

Related
Sen. Mitt Romney helped pave way for massive infrastructure bill; Sen. Mike Lee sees potholes in plan
Do bipartisan coalitions in Congress actually produce law?

Lee praised Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., a member of the 10-member bipartisan negotiating team that includes Romney, for coming out against the infrastructure bill.

“Altering your course often shows wisdom, not weakness. I look forward to more of my Republican colleagues demonstrating this same wisdom,” Lee tweeted.

Young said in a statement Sunday that while he’s eager to invest in infrastructure, he’s committed to doing it in a fiscally responsible way.

“Having reviewed the Congressional Budget Office’s estimated fiscal impact of this legislation as currently constructed, and frankly still not being comfortable with a number of the Democratic priorities contained in this version, I will vote ‘no,’” he said.

Young said he also can’t support the bill because Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., continues to insist it be tied to the Democrats’ budget proposal when it reaches the House. Also, he said it’s all but certain that the House will make changes to the infrastructure plan.

Romney said he doesn’t follow “terribly well” the argument that the infrastructure bill would be a gateway to the Democrats’ budget plan. If the legislation doesn’t pass or the House blows it up, it would just be added to the budget bill.

“This is not a gateway to anything but a gateway to better roads, better bridges, better water, better broadband in rural communities and a better economic vitality for our country,” he said.

Some Republicans argue that being in favor of the infrastructure bill would confuse voters into thinking they’re also part of the Democrats’ budget proposal.

“And we’re going to get blamed for the whole mess,” Romney said.

Sometimes politics must be put aside for what’s “absolutely right” for America, he said.

“I’m sure some people are a little disturbed when they see headlines that say this bipartisan effort would look like a win for Biden,” Romney said. “Well, it’s a win for Republicans, and it’s a win for Biden. It’s a win for Democrats. It’s a win for the Senate to say we can work together.”