On Fox News, Portman Discusses Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, Biden-Putin Summit
This afternoon on Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Senator Portman discussed the current bipartisan infrastructure negotiations being worked out by a bipartisan group of senators, with guest host Charles Payne. Last week the senators – five Republicans and five Democrats – released a statement after reaching an agreement on a framework to modernize America’s infrastructure. President Biden indicated recently that he is open to considering the deal.
Senator Portman also addressed the Biden-Putin summit, which just concluded today in Geneva, Switzerland. Portman said that he was pleased that Ukraine was included in the conversation and that Biden addressed concerns related to cybersecurity and to the wellbeing of Alexei Navalny – Russia’s opposition leader who is currently in jail in Russia. Portman urged the Biden administration to follow up their tough rhetoric with strong actions, something they have not done so far given their recent decision to waive sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The transcript of the interview can be found below and you can watch the interview here.
PORTMAN ON PRESIDENT BIDEN’S RESPONSE TO ONGOING INFRASTRUCTURE NEGOTIATIONS:
“Well, I think that was pretty good. He didn’t say no, but he also didn’t say yes. And look, I think it makes so much sense Charles to do this in a bipartisan way, without taxes, because his own proposal, as you know, is a huge new package: $2.65 trillion with $2 trillion of new taxes, particularly taxes on American businesses and American workers, which makes no sense coming out of this pandemic. As you well know from your work on the economic side, the 2017 tax bill actually worked well to bring jobs and investment back to America and increased wages. So my hope is that he will be willing to work with us on a different kind of package that doesn’t have taxes, but does deal with these core infrastructure challenges that we have as a country.”
PORTMAN ON THE ONGOING INFRASTRUCTURE NEGOTIATIONS:
“The five Democrats we worked with, including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, were not interested in new taxes for infrastructure. They just didn’t believe that was the right way to go in this case. That was helpful, but the Republicans drew a red line and said, one, it has to be about core infrastructure, and two, it has to be without raising taxes. We can do that, that’s the good news. There are pay-fors that are appropriate. President Biden has said he’s not crazy about a couple of them. But there are good pay-fors, including taking money back that has already been spent with regard to COVID-19, that has not been utilized yet, and using it for infrastructure. Actually, a lot of states are quite interested in that because they can’t use the state and local money for things like roads and bridges. That’s an obvious place to go. And then there are other places too where we can find some resources for these long-term capital expenditures, say a bridge that’s going to last for 50 years, by leveraging the federal government’s ability to borrow at low interest rates, and revolving loan programs that you are familiar with are used all the time. This could be an expansion of that for federal infrastructure projects. So I think there’s an opportunity here to move ahead and at least do this on a bipartisan basis.”
PORTMAN ON THE BIDEN-PUTIN SUMMIT:
“I was pleased to see the president did raise some of the key issues. Navalny, of course, is one. But with regard to Russia’s interference in Eastern Europe, I’m so glad Ukraine was part of the agenda. I wish also there’d been more discussion about Belarus and about Georgia. Maybe we’ll find out more about that later. But it’s important to have those discussions and I’m glad that they were raised. The cybersecurity issue was raised as well, which was a huge concern right now. My concern, Charles, goes to the actual actions that are taken by the United States versus that discussion or that rhetoric. And specifically with regard to Ukraine, Eastern Europe generally, I think the United States needs to stand tall. And instead what the president and his administration has done recently is the Biden administration allowed for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to move forward by providing a waiver for the sanctions that had been in place. I think that’s a big mistake. I know it’s a terrible thing for Ukraine, I’ve spoken to President Zelensky in person about this in the last couple of weeks in Ukraine. We’ve also heard from other countries, their concern about allowing this gas pipeline to circumvent Ukraine and to go directly to the Europeans. Also it makes Europe far more dependent on Russian natural gas and that is not a good thing either. My hope it that it will not just be strong rhetoric but actually strong actions. Same with regard to Ukraine, Georgia, and other countries who we ought to allow into NATO. They’ve turned to us, turned to the west, turned to democracy, and we ought to embrace them.”