Transportation Sec. Buttigieg: Biden Still Prefers Bipartisan Infrastructure U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. (Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Tuesday, 27 April 2021 04:58 PM
President Joe Biden still prefers a bipartisan approach toward passing infrastructure legislation, but at the same time the American people expect quick results, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday.
"That's why we're not only in dialogue with the fellow Democrats, but we're in dialogue with the Republicans," Buttigieg said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
"We're glad they came to the table with their version; that's a starting point."
He added that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has been firm on not voting to eliminate the filibuster, which would allow Biden's $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan to pass more easily in the Senate, has said he prefers a more stripped-down, bipartisan bill that will pass, and Biden agrees that a bipartisan solution, but on a larger scale, is needed.
"We've allowed our infrastructure to fall to 13th place in the world," said Buttigieg.
"One area that there's strong bipartisan agreement definitely among the American people is we have to act and we have to invest in a big, big way. That's what our plan does. That's what we're discussing every day with people from both houses and both parties…I think it was a mayor who once said that there's no such thing as a Democratic or Republican hole in the road. We know that our roads and bridges need work. We know our ports, airports are not what they could be we know that Americans have been asked to settle for less on rail, on transit."
Infrastructure upgrades are not only a matter of quality of life, but needed for U.S. business competitiveness, said Buttigieg.
"When you look at our allies, our strategic competitors, they are not shy to make big infrastructure investments," he said.
He added that Biden believes more traditional infrastructure measures can go along with economic measures, however.
"A strong majority of Americans believe something like elder care should be more affordable," said Buttigieg.
"A lot of people are in the workforce because they can't afford to take care of their loved ones. If you don't think that's infrastructure and we still agree it's good policy, my message to the Republican legislators is to vote for it anyway, call it whatever you like and we can both celebrate doing something good for the American people. This is the process we're going through right now. I do think we're going to get to something that's going to be good for the American people and it will help move us forward."
The plan will also allow more jobs to be added, said the secretary.
"The biggest thing holding America back right now at least in terms of our long-term outlook is the fact we've tolerated a deteriorating infrastructure," said Buttigieg. "When you add this all up, I think it's going to be a win not just for the American people but for businesses too even if some of the corporations that have paid zero taxes on billions of dollars of taxes have to pony up a little bit and make sure it happens."