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Congressman warns Trump impeachment could hold up federal infrastructure plan

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Thursday, March 7, 2019  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop

Capital Development Board, Capital Construction Plan (14) , President (73) , Transportation (91) Manar, Andy--State Senate, 48
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said that Illinois lawmakers need to put together a plan for investing in the state's infrastructure, but said hope for federal dollars could depend on whether Democrats in U.S. House initiate impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

Impeachment would almost certainly delay a federal infrastructure plan, he said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state needs a capital bill. The state hasn’t had one since Gov. Pat Quinn was in office.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, was with other Senate Appropriations Committee members getting input from stakeholders in Edwardsville on Monday. The group is visiting different parts of the state to get a better idea of what infrastructure improvements are needed. Another public hearing is scheduled for Decatur the Monday after next with more hearings in the coming weeks. Manar said the committee members are all ears within reason.

“We’re not going to be able to build things that we don’t need, and we shouldn't do things that are frivolous,” Manar said. “All ideas should be welcomed.”

He doesn’t think roads and bridges should be the only things addressed in a new capital plan for Illinois. Manar also wants deferred maintenance for public buildings like those at the state’s public universities to be addressed.

Manar said federal dollars are important to match whatever state dollars lawmakers budget for public works projects.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, agreed. He said there could be bipartisan success in securing more federal tax dollars for Illinois.

“If the Democrats [in the U.S. House] don’t decide to move down the impeachment process trail,” Davis said. “Because if that happens, nothing in Washington is going get done just like in Springfield when Rod Blagojevich was impeached, not much got done during that process.”

Democrats in the U.S. House have sent records requests to 81 different Trump associates after a public hearing with the president’s former personal attorney. That's in addition to the yet-to-be-completed special counsel investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump has called the special counsel investigation a “witch hunt” and said on Twitter Tuesday that the recent records requests by the new Democrat majority in the U.S. House was a “big, fat, fishing expedition desperately in search of a crime, when in fact the real crime is what the Dems are doing, and have done.”

During his state of the union speech, Trump said lawmakers could either chose to legislate or investigate, but said they won’t be able to do both. Democrats have said it’s a matter of oversight, while the president’s supporters have said it’s overreaching investigations into a person, not into specific crimes.

With all of the drama in D.C., Manar said it “would be foolish” to bank on federal dollars above and beyond what Illinois is already getting.

“If we’re going to sit and wait for the Congress and President Trump to put together an infrastructure package that actually invests in downstate Illinois, we’re going to be waiting for a very long time, unfortunately,” Manar said.

A key question will be if existing state funding will be enough, or if lawmakers will make a push to increase the motor fuel tax for more revenue.

Davis said there are other issues policymakers should focus on.

“We’ve got to diversify,” Davis said. “We’ve got to look at asset recycling, public-private partnerships, how do we bring electric vehicles into the mix. Right now they’re getting $7,500 in federal tax credits when they’re purchased, but they’re not paying a single penny toward fixing our roads and our bridges.”

Both Manar and Davis said matching Illinois dollars with federal dollars will be critical, but Davis warned partisan investigations against the Republican President by the Democrat-controlled U.S. House could put the brakes on a new infrastructure plan.