GOP Senator Blackburn Seeks Infrastructure Deal Without Tax Hike

GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn said Tuesday she’s hopeful there could be a deal with Democrats on pared-down, traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, ports, water systems, the power grid and broadband, that doesn’t rely on tax increases to pay for it.

The basis for such an agreement, Blackburn said, is contained in the roughly $600 billion proposal from Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito that she’s offered to President Joe Biden. Whatever comes out of negotiations should be solely focused on traditional infrastructure projects, she said.

GOP Senator Blackburn Seeks Infrastructure Deal Without Tax Hike

“If you were to go out across the country, or come with me into Tennessee, and you talk to people about what they want to see in an infrastructure bill, that is what they’re wanting to see,” Blackburn, of Tennessee, said on Bloomberg’s “Balance of Power” program.

Biden has proposed a $4 trillion plan that would go beyond roads, bridges and ports to include social spending initiatives. He would pay for it by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, which Blackburn and other Republicans have rejected.

Blackburn said some Democrats have been amenable to breaking off a more narrowly focused infrastructure plan from Biden’s much larger ambitions, but said it’s not clear yet if the Democratic leadership is on board.

“You would have to ask Chuck Schumer, you would have to ask the president,” she said, referring to the Senate majority leader. “My hope is we’re going to be able to do that.”

The White House plans to talk with Capito about the GOP proposal next week, but press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration wants the larger package to be paid for.

“If people have alternative proposals that don’t raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year that will help pay for this we’re quite open to them,” Psaki said Tuesday at a briefing.

Blackburn also spoke about her desire to overhaul the regulatory framework for tech companies and especially social media, including privacy rules requiring users to opt-in before companies can make money off of their personal information, and additional protections for children online.

“This would require them to reshape their business model,” said Blackburn, who chaired a tech working group in the previous Congress.

She also wants to overhaul Section 230 of a 1996 law which protects internet companies from liability for user content, look at tightening antitrust provisions and enact notification rules for tech platform security breaches. She also said she’s concerned by content moderators censoring content on Facebook and other platforms.

“Those First Amendment rights are vitally important — freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to peaceably assemble — and those are things that should be held to the individual, not to the social media giant that wants to censor you or block you,” she said.

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