This story was updated from its original version
Over Zoom, U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader discussed his views on potential infrastructure legislation during a Rotary Club of Wilsonville meeting Thursday, June 17.
"Despite what the media tells you, that's what we're talking about in Washington, D.C., right now is infrastructure," Shrader said at the meeting.
Schrader, who represents Oregon's fifth congressional district, and some of his colleagues in the Republican and Democratic parties in the House of Representatives recently introduced a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that would provide funding for highways, roads, bridges, airports, electric vehicles and transit.
The Democrat clarified that he doesn't agree with President Joe Biden's broad definition of infrastructure, which Biden used in his infrastructure package to include things like childcare and education.
"We have good bipartisan support for this. We are working with the senate, trying to make sure as they develop their bipartisan package (which is similar in cost) that we would be close to what they are talking about," Schrader said.
He added: "A $1.2 trillion package is substantial. I think we're in line with the thinking of the bodies here in Congress and the president. It's a function of pulling the trigger and getting it done."
Schrader said he opposes using the budget reconciliation process -- which Democrats used to pass a COVID-19 relief bill this year and Republicans used to pass tax cuts in 2017 -- to pass an infrastructure bill. This process stipulates that Congress can approve a bill with 50 votes in the Senate while avoiding a filibuster if the bill only involves budgetary matters.
"We used that on the COVID package, which I thought was a mistake. We didn't need to do that," he said.
He also commented on the wildfires and ice storm that took place in the last year and felt that those events showed the importance of improving the power grid as part of any infrastructure effort.
"It points to the need as part of an infrastructure package to develop a smarter grid system to take these events into account and hopefully prepare better for this stuff," he said.
Schrader said funding for such legislation could come from a variety of sources, including raising taxes.
When asked by a Rotary member about the prospects for funding to address the I-5 bottleneck at the Boone Bridge, he said he supported that effort and that it will take the state to make it a higher priority before he can try to push for federal funding.
Redistricting on the table
Schrader projected that Wilsonville would remain in his district if Oregon adds another congressional seat this year, which he thinks will happen. He said he wasn't sure how that process would play out but said to expect significant changes locally.
"Having that extra voice will be helpful. My experience in congress has been that even though Oregon is a relatively small state … we punch above our weight because we do work together," he said. "When there's transportation funding we're vying for, we do very well in those areas."
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