Hagerty Delivers Floor Remarks on Senate Infrastructure Bill

August 7, 2021

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor about his refusal to expedite final passage of the infrastructure package and the implications this legislation and the soon-to-come Democrats’ tax-and-spending bill will have on American taxpayers.

*Click the photo above or here to watch*

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Mr. President:

I support hard infrastructure.  It’s in my DNA and I’ve seen its transformative effects.

I grew up shoveling asphalt for my dad’s construction business. 

I served as economic development commissioner in Tennessee, and quality infrastructure, including broadband access, was essential to attracting good jobs to Tennessee. 

So, I’m in complete agreement that shoring up our hard infrastructure is a worthy cause.  This bill does some of that, and that’s good. 

But, there are good and bad ways to achieve noble ends, and the question is:  What is the best way to accomplish this goal?  And my frustration is with the methods and vehicle being used here.

The first problem is that the bill’s sponsors repeatedly said it would be paid for.  It’s not.  In fact, it’s not just a little bit off; it’s a quarter of a trillion dollars short.  That’s almost 7 times the entire annual budget for the State of Tennessee.

We waited weeks for the text of this legislation.  Before the text even existed, the Democrat Leader forced the Senate to vote on proceeding to it.  There’s absolutely no reason for rushing this process and attempting to limit scrutiny of this bill, other than the Democrat Leader’s completely artificial, self-imposed, politically driven timeline.  More on that later.

The text, all 2,700 plus pages of it, was finally made available six days ago, and the Senate has been able to consider it this week.

But the Senate waited all week for the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of what it will cost.  The Congressional Budget Office is the entity that Congress has agreed is responsible for scorekeeping on what legislation will cost the American people.

Let’s keep in mind that meeting the definition of “paid for” in CBO’s eyes doesn’t always make sense to the average American.  For instance, CBO allows spending now to be offset by projected savings that won’t happen for 10 more years.  CBO can allow savings that are already occurring naturally to count as effectively new savings for purposes of scoring a bill.  The point is: this kind of scoring—which the average American doesn’t get the benefit of in balancing their finances each month—is designed to make it easier for a bill to be scored as “paid-for” on paper.

As an example, the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn-Wharton Budget Model estimates that the legislation would actually add $351 billion in deficit spending, an even higher total than the CBO estimate.

The point is: even using these scorekeeping advantages, CBO said the bill wasn’t paid for.

I understand why the Democrat Leader kept the CBO score under wraps until late Thursday.  It showed that the bill fell short of its ambitions.  The emperor has no clothes.

The CBO said that it misses the mark of being “paid for” by a cool quarter trillion dollars. 

As an aside, I found it incredible that despite—or perhaps because of—getting this news on Thursday afternoon, Democrats tried to accelerate passage of this bill later that very night, instead of going through the normal multi-day process for debating and enacting a bill.  I objected to accelerating this process on Thursday night because the Senate must carefully consider what it is doing.

Now the proponents of this bill claim that the CBO’s analysis is wrong.  No matter how much explaining they do, the Senate agreed on the umpire before the game started.

To this end, if this bill is paid for, why will we have to vote to waive Budget Act requirements later in this process?  I’ll make a deal with those who say the bill is paid for:  If the Senate can pass this bill without waiving the Budget Act or Pay-As-You-Go Requirements, then I’ll agree with them that it’s paid for.

Most of us probably won’t be around when the bill comes due for the never-ending deficit-spending here in Washington, but sadly our children and grandchildren will be.  The politicians in Washington spend to buy votes now, but conveniently won’t be around to deal with the consequences.

We can do hard infrastructure—again, a worthy goal—without shoveling more debt onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.  Indeed, if we just limited this bill to hard infrastructure, it would be paid-for. 

As I said, there are good and bad ways to achieve noble ends.

The second reason I am opposed to this legislation is because of its Big-Government, top-down approach.  It includes many half-baked components that deserve much further scrutiny. 

Rather than compete against China using our unparalleled economy, innovation, and ingenuity, we’re substituting massive government control to dictate, fund, and decide winners and losers.

We’re using the cryptocurrency market as a pay-for.  Have we fully vetted how this new regulation and taxation will affect this rapidly developing industry?  Will leadership in this industry flee the United States as a result?

What is the point of even having committees in the Senate with expertise in certain matters if the most significant legislation doesn’t even go through them.  The whole point of committees is to use them—to carefully scrutinize and refine important legislation—to prevent unintended consequences that result from rushed legislation.  This is a 2700-page bill going through no committees.  Once again, we have to pass it to find out what’s in it, and learn as we go what kinds of unintended problems it will create.

The third reason I am frustrated with this legislation is because it is tied to the Democrats’ real ambition, which is their multi-trillion-dollar march to socialism that they will unveil right after this infrastructure legislation is passed.

Democrats have admitted this is the plan.

The far left wing of the Democrat Party—which is effectively calling the shots these days—is demanding that Democrats here in Congress spend trillions of dollars to reshape American society—to make American citizens more dependent on their government.  Their aim seems to be to turn the United States into a sclerotic, government-controlled state, like many in Western Europe.

This upcoming legislation is the third leg of the stool for the Democrats’ overall plan.

The first leg is to pack the Supreme Court, so the Constitution no longer gets in the way of their plans.

The second is to federalize and take over voting laws and procedures, ensuring Democrats will never lose another election, propelling themselves into perpetual power over the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch.

And third, they want to remake the United States economy and Americans’ relationship with government into one in which Americans look to government for everything, from Green New Deal programs to daycare.  In this world, American citizens will be less free, less prosperous, but more captive and hooked on government programs—which means more dependent on Democrats and the institutions they control.

So far, Democrats have been unable to build legs one and two of that stool, but they are actively trying. 

President Biden has a court-packing commission ongoing, and the Democrat Leader is today working on scheduling more votes on the election takeover.

They are desperate to appease left-wing extremists that have all the energy in their party because they need their support to win elections.  Yet, they’ve stalled out on their first two goals.  So, they have come up with a scheme to build the third leg of their stool.

They previewed Phase 1 of this scheme in March when they spent $1.9 trillion dollars in the name of COVID Relief.  Of course, 90% of it had nothing to do with COVID.  It was really just a payoff to their most loyal political supporters.  Sadly, it is now causing the highest inflation in decades, which is a daily tax on every American in buying goods and services.

But Phase 2 of their scheme is even more devious:

Step One, change the conversation to trillions.  Make billions sound small.  Condition the Congress.  Condition the Media.  Condition the people. 

Remember, a trillion dollars is an astronomical amount of money—that our children will have to pay for.

Step Two, tell everyone that the United States needs infrastructure.

Step Three, redefine the term “infrastructure” to include government dependency programs.  Really muddy it up. 

Step Four, when more reasonable Democrats in the Senate balk at some of the more expensive or egregious items, promise them a two-track process, one for hard infrastructure, and one for social programs.

Step Five, negotiate as much of your socialist wish list into the infrastructure track as you can.  They got some of it in this bill, but not all of it.  They will then put the rest of the wish list into the government-dependency bill. 

Step Six, pass the infrastructure bill through the Senate as quickly as possible.  Drop a nearly-3,000-page bill and demand it be passed immediately, before we can really even understand or scrutinize what’s in it.  The Trojan Horse is through the gates.

Step Seven, hold that infrastructure bill hostage in the House of Representatives until everything you couldn’t get into the infrastructure bill—meaning the trillions of dollars in government dependency programs—are also passed through the Senate.  Therefore, Nancy Pelosi has promised that this will never become law until it is joined at the hip with the multi-trillion-dollar socialist bill.  More on that in a minute.

Step Eight, say that the President won’t sign the infrastructure bill into law if it’s not accompanied by trillions of dollars in government dependency programs.  President Biden already did this, before clumsily walking it back, because he realized he’d revealed too much of the plan.

Step Nine, to get the government-dependency programs part passed, circumvent the filibuster in the Senate by abusing an arcane loophole—that was intended to save taxpayer dollars and ensure passage of an annual budget for the federal government—to pass trillions of dollars in government dependency programs with only 50 Democrat votes.

Step Ten, give reasonable Democrats political cover to support the parliamentary trick and government dependency spending by saying it unlocks the ability for their hard-fought infrastructure bill that passed the Senate—and is now being held hostage in the House—to get through the House and onto the President’s desk. 

Wait, what just happened?  Abracadabra, the American people are so confused by Democrats’ sleight of hand, they don’t even notice their wallet has been stolen and their country has been fundamentally changed.

My question:  If all of these policies and all of this spending is so good, why does getting it done require a parliamentary house of mirrors?

There can’t be a “bipartisan deal” on infrastructure if its enactment into law requires later tacking on all of the socialist wish list items that got excluded from the “deal.”

Democrats have telegraphed these plans.  You just have to pay attention.

The President of the United States, right after announcing the infrastructure deal, said it would be held hostage on his desk without trillions of dollars in government dependency spending.

President Biden specifically said: “I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution. But if only one comes to me, this is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem.”

Later, in response to a question, he revealed: “Look, the bipartisan bill, from the very beginning, was understood there was going to have to be the second part of it.  I’m not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest.”

Now, he later tried to muddy the waters on this because he’d said too much, but if you read his clean-up statement carefully, he never took back his vow.  He never said he would sign the bipartisan bill without the partisan multi-trillion-dollar bill.

The Speaker of the House has said the same thing repeatedly.  On June 24, she said: “There ain’t going to be a bipartisan bill without a reconciliation bill.”  She added again, “Let me be really clear on this: We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill.”

A month later, on July 22, Speaker Pelosi again said: “We will not take up the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation measure.”

It only takes one Democrat to end this insanity, to stand up and say he or she won’t participate in this scheme.  That would change the entire tenor of this debate and process.

So, while I believe in hard infrastructure, I cannot participate in doing it this way. 

First, by including in this bill a bunch of things that aren’t hard infrastructure and that result in throwing a quarter of a trillion more in debt at our children and grandchildren. 

And second—and most importantly for the future of this country—enabling this quadruple bank-shot attempt by Democrats to thread their government dependency fantasy through a Senate and House that are divided by the narrowest of possible margins by holding this bill—once it passes the Senate—hostage in the House.

The stakes here are too high.  America is an exceptional nation, distinct from all the others throughout its history, because it provided more freedom and opportunity than any other.  President Lincoln called it “the last best hope of earth.”  Ever since, it has fulfilled that promise for countless generations.

We must fight to preserve our American system and the American Dream, not—in a tornado of hurried legislative activity—seal its decline.

I’m asking my colleagues to fight for this country’s future.  Our children and grandchildren deserve to have the wonderful country and opportunities we had.  Our parents and grandparents made sure that we had a better future than they did, and we are duty-bound to do same. 

That’s why I ran for this office. 

Let’s work on infrastructure together, out from under the rapidly approaching cloud of socialism.

Mr./Madam President, I yield the floor.