Young, Murkowski have doubts about scope of Biden’s infrastructure proposal

people sit in room
President Biden met with lawmakers in the Oval Office Monday to discuss infrastructure. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, had a seat near Vice President Harris. (Photo: White House)

President Biden invited Republicans to the White House Monday in an attempt to win support for his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, and he took special notice of Rep. Don Young.

“We got the dean here. Don Young is here. We got the dean, so everything is going to be all right,” Biden said at the start, before media were excluded from the Oval Office. “But all kidding aside, I’m prepared to negotiate as to the extent of my infrastructure project, as well as how we pay for it.”

Young is called “the dean of the House” because he’s its most senior member.

Young is no stranger to big infrastructure bills. He authored a major one that became law in 2005, when he was chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It was a record-breaker at the time. But, at less than $300 billion, Young’s SAFETEA-LU bill was a fraction of what Biden is proposing.

Young, in a written statement, said he has concerns about the scope of the bill.

“Roads, bridges, and ports are undoubtedly infrastructure, and I believe that energy grids, broadband, and clean water can fit the definition as well,” Young’s statement says. “But I have concern that moving too far beyond this could sink the bill.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the scope of the bill concerns her, too.

“Let’s be honest about what we’re talking about,” she said. “If this is going to be a significant stimulus bill, on top of an already significant stimulus bill that we saw with the American Rescue Plan, then let’s label it for what it is.”

She’s also concerned about how to pay for a big construction program. But, if there is to be a massive infrastructure bill, Murkowski said Alaska could put the money to good use.

“In the Trump administration, I think it was at the beginning of just about every year, there’d be an announcement: This is going to be the year that the infrastructure,” she said. “And we would contact the communities and say, ‘Give us your list … We want to be ready.’ And so believe me, we’ve been getting lists now for about four or five years.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan did not respond to an interview request Tuesday.