2022 Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Whitfield said he thinks a $1 trillion bipartisan deal on infrastructure doesn’t go far enough, and if he’s elected, he wants to see more spent on traditional and non-traditional infrastructure investment.
“I think that we need to be spending more money on infrastructure. I understand that some conservative GOP politicians may believe that climate change has nothing to do with infrastructure, but we are seeing all across our country and the entire world that the climate is in fact affecting our infrastructure in terms of insulation melting off of electric poles, in terms of dams not being able to withhold their water, the amount of water that they were built to retain anymore,” Whitfield said in a Talk Business & Politics interview.
“There’s so many different things that we need to do that I just don’t feel like this bipartisan infrastructure bill is going to have enough backbone, enough meat to it, to actually get these things done,” he added.
On Thursday (July 29), the U.S. Senate passed a procedural motion 67-32 to debate a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure. Neither of Arkansas’ two GOP U.S. Senators, John Boozman and Tom Cotton, voted for the motion.
The bipartisan agreement includes $110 billion for roads; $73 billion for power grid spending; $66 billion for railways; $65 billion to expand broadband access; $55 billion for water projects; $50 billion for the environment; $39 billion for public transit and $25 billion for airports, according to President Joe Biden, who supports the proposal.
“What we have to understand is the more money that we put into this infrastructure bill, the more money that’s going to go towards creating new jobs, creating higher wages and making sure that our people are getting back out there and working, not just with low-income jobs, but good paying jobs with benefits,” Whitfield said.
The infrastructure package would be financed through a combination of money sources. About $205 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief funds would be allocated to pay for part of the measure. Another funding source is recouping $50 billion in fraudulently paid unemployment benefits during the pandemic and getting states to return unused federal unemployment funds, which would raise another $50 billion.
House Democrats have been advocating for a $3.5 trillion infrastructure spending package, but the Senate version is moving first. Whitfield said those wanting to spend less on infrastructure are not thinking of the ripple effect of government spending.
“I think that it’s an excuse for people to try to conserve money,” he said. “It’s very important that we do understand that the more money we spend, the more money is going into the public sector, the more money that is going to go into people’s pockets and into jobs to boost our companies.”
Whitfield ran for the U.S. Senate in 2020 as an independent, but he did not collect enough signatures to reach the ballot. He is running against other announced Democrats – Natalie James and Jack Foster – to potentially challenge incumbent Sen. Boozman, who faces four primary challengers.
You can watch his full interview, where he discusses health care and the pandemic, in the video below.