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
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
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
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
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
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
I yield the floor
I suggest the absence of a quorum.