The Biden Surcharge is a Premium to Live

May 17, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor to express her concerns with President Biden's reckless spending priorities.

 

To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.

 

 

You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.

 

Madam President, this weekend, we had a positive development in the

status of the I-40 bridge that connects West Memphis, AR, and Memphis,

TN. Just as a reminder, last week, inspectors discovered a crack in one

of the steel beams supporting the bridge. The crossing was immediately

closed to all vehicle and barge traffic. On Friday morning, the Coast

Guard reopened the stretch of Mississippi River that runs under the

bridge, but the bridge itself remains closed indefinitely.

Now, a lot of armchair experts have decided to sound off with the

argument that this closure won't affect local economies, but with all

due respect, those making this argument really should spend a little

bit more time out in the real world. This part of Middle America that

we are talking about is an incredibly important part of our Nation's

domestic supply chain. We have a 15-mile stretch along the Mississippi

River, and that houses 68 waterfronted facilities. Thirty-seven of

those facilities are terminal facilities moving products such as

petroleum, tar, asphalt, cement, steel, coal, salt, fertilizers, rock

and gravel, and grains.

Shipping companies and cross-country trucking companies depend on the

I-40 crossing, and so do the local grocery stores, industrial

facilities, restaurants, retail outlets that purchase the cargo, and,

of course, our Nation's farmers.

Commercial trucking constitutes 25 percent of all traffic that

crosses the I-40 bridge. The river traffic that flows beneath the

bridge is just as important. When the Coast Guard reopened that stretch

of the Mississippi, they had to juggle 60 vessels hauling more than

1,000 barges. Yes. We had a little traffic jam in the Mississippi

River.

It is amazing to me how quickly a problem like this does turn into a

bottleneck. Tennessee and Arkansas transportation officials are still

working out a timeline for repairs, but as of now, the trucking

industry is preparing for a downward spiral.

According to the Arkansas Trucking Association, this could cost

operators and their customers more than $2 million a day, which is an

amount that the industry actually cannot absorb. This means that the

delay could end up costing consumers an additional $2 million a day.

And depending on what they are buying, they could also see empty

shelves due to a supply chain interruption.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is putting all their energy and

focus into checking items off of a decades-old wish list of social

programs. They put forward an infrastructure package worth more than $2

trillion that wastes about two-thirds of this total pricetag on

projects that have nothing to do with infrastructure, nothing to do

with making sure that major bridges and thoroughfares are safe and open

or expanding broadband access or making sure that parents in rural

Tennessee can get their kids to school without worrying that a

rainstorm will flood the road on the way to town. This is making the

American people feel so incredibly unsettled and very frustrated, and

Tennesseans are pretty nervous about the future.

If I could give the President one piece of advice, it would be this:

If you want to waste time peddling Green New Deal policies or expanding

social safety nets, admit it--just admit it. Call it what it is. Don't

call it infrastructure and then turn around and throw pocket change at

actual infrastructure problems that need to be addressed right now.

That mislabeling makes it look like you are trying to pull a fast one

over the American people, and it makes the American people believe that

you really don't care. And that is a dangerous message to send in the

middle of a traumatic pandemic recovery, especially considering that

prices are already on the rise. We see it in utilities. We see it at

the gas pump. We see it in the packaged snacks we purchase for the

children's Sunday school class. Even basics in the produce section at

the grocery store are beginning to get out of reach. It is affecting

basic nutrition.

This is the Biden surcharge. We are paying a premium just to live

from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning to the time we

brush our teeth and get into bed at night. The barebones cost of living

is going up thanks to these reckless spending priorities.

My Democratic colleagues need to understand that a government subsidy

cannot save a family from that kind of hit to their monthly budget,

affecting everything from the moment their feet hit the floor in the

morning to the time they brush their teeth and go to bed in the

evening.

The Biden administration is creating a perfect storm of income

insecurity, shortages, and the uneasiness that comes when Americans see

more month at the end of their money than money at the end of the

month.

They know how to manage their budget, and they know what they have to

do when prices creep up 25 cents, $1 or $2 at a time. Their instinct

isn't to reach out to the Federal Government for help; their instinct

and their action is to cut back on the extras and to prepare for harder

times ahead.

The only way to avoid this even now is to make prudent, targeted

investments in economic recovery, supply chain security, cyber

security, and, yes, actual real infrastructure projects.

The American people cannot afford all the extras that are on the

Democratic Party's wish list. Their income can't keep up with the

inflation that is hitting their pocketbook every single day of the

week. And they really are concerned with what will happen when those

trend lines cross and inflation heads north every single day.

I would, again, ask my Democratic colleagues to step back from the

money printer and recognize the effect all this spending is having on

American families.

I yield the floor

I suggest the absence of a quorum.