© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Casey Pitches Biden’s Infrastructure, Families Plan At Monaca Town Hall

Jose Luis Magana

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said Thursday he’s committed to passing as much of President’s Biden’s jobs and families plans as possible, despite a razor-thin margin in the Senate and vocal Republican opposition to the administration’s proposed investments in social and environmental programs.

“I don’t think we’re going to get a big bipartisan agreement on that part of it,” Casey, a Democrat, said at a drive-in town hall in Monaca, Pa. “We might be able to get a bipartisan agreement on some, a limited list of infrastructure issues. And that might be a good thing to do, just get that done.”

The Biden administration’s sweeping proposals are expected to cost more than $4 trillion combined, and include spending on physical structures, such as roads and bridges, while also earmarking investments in child care and social programs.

“Some of that infrastructure means the infrastructure of caregiving, the infrastructure of helping families just get to work every day,” Casey said. “For some people, they literally need a physical bridge to get to work – a lot of us do. But for some families, they’re also going to need other kinds of bridges. One of those bridges is home- and community-based services.”

Biden’s plans would be funded by corporate tax hikes, undoing much of the tax cuts passed by Republicans in 2017. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week he backs a Republican infrastructure proposal that would invest up to $600 billion, a fraction of the Democrat-backed plans. The Republican bill also more narrowly defines infrastructure and would be paid for with existing funds and new fees, not corporate tax increases.

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey called Biden’s proposals “yet another example of this hyper-partisan approach that the Biden administration has deployed since January,” following the president’s address to the joint session of Congress last week where Biden laid out his goals for the months ahead.

“The Biden White House has focused most of its energy on forcing through aspects of the left-wing wish list, either by executive order or partisan legislation, while stonewalling most Republican ideas and input,” Toomey said.

Because it appears unlikely that parts of Biden’s proposal will attract enough Republican support to pass, Casey said Democrats could push them through using reconciliation, a maneuver that allows the Senate to fast-track legislation and pass it with a simple 51-vote majority. Democrats also used the tactic to pass the American Rescue Plan earlier this year.

Casey told constituents Thursday that passing the plans is imperative.

“Every elected official I know says … ‘We’re concerned about seniors, about people with disabilities. We’re concerned about children,’” he said. “But," he added, "we’re often not investing enough in any of those Americans. And we’re definitely not investing enough in the people who provide them care.”

An-Li Herring is a reporter for 90.5 WESA, with a focus on economic policy, local government, and the courts. She previously interned for NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg in Washington, DC, and the investigations team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A Pittsburgh native, An-Li completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and earned her law degree from Stanford University. She can be reached at aherring@wesa.fm.
Lucy Perkins is an editor and also reports on federal government and elections for the Government and Accountability team. Before joining the WESA newsroom, she was an NPR producer in Washington, D.C., working on news programs like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. You can reach her at lperkins@wesa.fm.
WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.