- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 7, 2021

Former President Donald Trump warned GOP lawmakers on Saturday that a vote for the White House’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal could result in losing his endorsement in the future.

Mr. Trump, who many still view as the leader of the GOP, said the infrastructure package would be a top issue in the upcoming 2022 and 2024 election cycles.

“It will be very hard for me to endorse anyone foolish enough to vote in favor of this deal,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Whether it’s the House or the Senate, think twice before you approve this terrible deal.”

The former president, in particular, argued that lawmakers would be foolish to back the legislation, which was crafted behind closed doors and only made public last week.

“This is a 2,700-page bill that no one could have possibly read — they would have needed to take speed reading courses,” Mr. Trump said. “There is very little infrastructure in all of those pages.”

The infrastructure package, which was negotiated between President Biden and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, is expected to pass the Senate.

To date, the deal has received sufficient bipartisan support to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold. The support has remained solid, despite revelations the package is not fully funded like the White House initially promised.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that more than half of the $550 billion in new spending the bill proposes is unaccounted for properly.

Apart from legislation being unfunded, Mr. Trump said the package was flawed and would adversely impact rural and suburban communities. As proof, he pointed to provisions within the deal creating a pilot program for a mile-driven tax.

“There is very little infrastructure in all of those pages. Instead, they track your driving so they can tax you,” he said. “It is Joe Biden’s form of a gas tax but far bigger, far higher and, mark my words, far worse. They want to track you everywhere you go and watch everything you do!”

Mr. Trump said a vote for the package would be a “gift to the Democrat Party” and Mr. Biden, who desires to appear bipartisan but is content to ram through liberal priorities along party lines.

The White House has linked the infrastructure deal to a broader $3.5 trillion social welfare bill. The bigger legislation, which Democrats have dubbed “human infrastructure,” contains a slew of liberal priorities, including new climate-change regulations and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Because those provisions are unlikely to garner GOP support, Democrats plan to pass it along party lines via budget reconciliation. The process allows spending measures to avoid the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle and pass with a simple majority of 51 votes.

Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, have pledged not to act on the infrastructure package until the Senate passes a reconciliation bill.

“Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats understand that this is the way to get the horrendous $3.5 trillion, actually $5 trillion, Green New Deal bill done in the House,” Mr. Trump said.

Given the situation, Mr. Trump urged Republicans to reject the infrastructure bill and wait until at least after the 2022 elections to negotiate. The GOP is expected to do well during the first midterm election of Mr. Biden’s tenure, going off historical trends alone.

“Republicans should wait until after the Midterms when they will gain all the strength they’ll need to make a good deal, but remember, you already have the card, it’s called the debt ceiling, which the Democrats threatened us with constantly,” he said.

While Mr. Trump has spent weeks railing against the infrastructure package, Saturday marked the first time he pledged to make future support contingent upon its opposition.

It is unclear if the threat will be enough to kill the legislation. Mr. Trump’s support, however, has been vital for GOP elected officials, often making or breaking candidates.

The former president’s sway was evidenced in the recent special election for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. In that contest, Mr. Trump’s late endorsement propelled Mike Carey, a first-time candidate, to a double-digit win over 10 other Republicans.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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