Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn introduced an amendment Wednesday to the behemoth bipartisan infrastructure bill to replace funds for Amtrak with money for the southern border wall.
“I am very pro-infrastructure,” Blackburn told The Federalist in an exclusive interview. She qualified her comment, however, with opposition to the $1 trillion bill, frustrated over the colossal price tag and the boondoggle projects.
“I am not for the Green New Deal and wasting money,” she said. “Amtrak should be able to stand on its own.”
The senator’s amendment would reallocate the $1 billion currently set aside for the predominantly East Coast rail service to construction of the southern border wall, which President Joe Biden halted in the first days of his administration. Migration levels have reached new highs as border apprehensions eclipsed 1 million for the first time in 15 years, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The last time we had more than 188K monthly apprehensions on the the southwest border was March of 2000. We had more than 1.6 million total apprehensions that year, an all-time record, which we're on pace to surpass this year.
But yeah, Biden has the border under control, sure. pic.twitter.com/nZaf4jf3vf
— John Daniel Davidson (@johnddavidson) July 16, 2021
“Every town is a border town, and every state is a border state because of this open southern border,” Blackburn said, justifying her legislation to remove funds from the transit service for the Acela Corridor to completion of the wall.
The more than 2,700-page infrastructure package, which is headed for a vote on Saturday, includes billions for long-neglected projects Blackburn said needed to be addressed, including highway and waterway management. The bill as it stands, however, failed to earn her support for its trillion-dollar price tag.
Blackburn pointed to the bipartisan $350 billion bill from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation put forward in June by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., as “more realistic.”
“We need to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money,” Blackburn said, after the Biden administration has blown the nation’s deficit with trillion-dollar packages inducing inflation just seven months into office.
Amtrak, she said, ought to be paid for by the people who use it as opposed to taxpayer dollars for the beloved Biden project. The president rode the train often as a Delaware senator and celebrated its 50th anniversary at an event where he appeared to make up a story about a train conductor who congratulated him for riding it 1.5 million miles.
Other Republicans have taken issue with the latest infrastructure package, headed for the House as early as next week, and have proposed a flurry of amendments to make last-minute changes. Among them include a similar amendment from Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson to prohibit the cancellation of border wall contracts, but that was rejected by a 48-49 vote. It needed 60 votes to pass.
Another amendment proposed by Blackburn on Wednesday seeks a reversal of Biden’s decision to cancel permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Of the more than 250 amendments proposed, however, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee has introduced the most with 35, according to an analysis by RollCall.