Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on Sunday doubled down on his opposition to any increase in transit funding in any new infrastructure package, saying still-unspent mass transit funding should be repurposed.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Toomey broke down the stream of funds that have been poured into transit during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The federal government historically in recent years have given $13 billion per year to transit,” he said. “Over the 12 months ending in March, the federal government didn't give just $13 [billion]. Because of all the supplemental bills we passed, the federal government added another $70 billion… 7-0, for a total of about $83 billion. That's more money than the operating budget and the capital budgets combined of every single transit agency in America.”
According to Toomey, “it's so much money, they couldn't possibly spend it.”
“About half of it is sitting there, not spent,” he asserted. “Despite that, we offered our Democratic colleagues a 35% increase in the annual … rate of the federal subsidies to transit and 10s of billions of additional dollars in this bipartisan agreement on top of all the money that they got.”
“And they're saying that's not enough,” he lamented.
“Nobody is talking about cutting transit,” Toomey asserted. “The question is, how many 10s of billions of dollars on top of the huge increase that they've already gotten is sufficient? And that's where there is a little disagreement.”
Toomey decried that some people “think this is Monopoly money.”
“The way we should pay for this infrastructure — spend something — repurpose money we already approved but hasn't yet gone out the door,” he said. “That's a point of great contention with the Democrats. It's not to me just the top line that matters. It's also how we're funding it.”
“There's no question we have serious inflation right now,” he added. “There is a question about how long it lasts. And I'm just worried that the risk is high, that this is going to be with us for a while. And the Fed has put itself in a position where it's going to be behind the curve. You combine that with massively excess spending and it is a recipe for serious problems. That's one of the things I'm worried about.”
Toomey also said he’d be in a favor of bipartisan Jan. 6 commission but believes it’s obviously political.
“I think we should be candid about the fact that it is politically to the advantage of Democrats to try to keep this issue in the forefront,” he said.
“It's very clear that Democrats have an incentive to try to drive a political message here, and a purely partisan commission in the House is probably going to do that,” he said.
“It is a constant reminder about a terrible episode in our history at which [former President] Donald Trump was at the heart of, rather than looking at the policies of the current president,” Toomey said of the commission.
“Which is more relevant in 2022? I would argue the current president's policies and the damage that he's going to be doing, that's what we should be debating in 2022. … I'm not sure that's what the Democrats want to be talking about.”
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