Rep. Cindy Axne: Infrastructure bill needs child care, broadband programs

Rep. Cindy Axne met with constituents at an outdoor town hall in Valley Junction. (Photo by Katie Akin / Iowa Capital Dispatch)

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne says biofuels, child care and broadband are key priorities for a massive infrastructure plan undergoing negotiations in Washington D.C.

President Joe Biden is working with Republicans to pare back his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal and secure bipartisan support. Some moderate Democrats have insisted that Republicans work alongside Democrats on the bill, even though Democrats hold a majority in both the House and the Senate.

Axne, a Democrat from Iowa’s 3rd congressional district, said Monday that until she sees a final version of the complete infrastructure bill she can’t commit to voting one way or the other.

“It’s got to hit the really important things,” she said. “And if it doesn’t with a bipartisan bill, then we’re going to have to move forward with a bill that does.”

Axne visited Des Moines in late April to promote the first draft of Biden’s “American Jobs Plan,” the $2.3 trillion proposal that included traditional infrastructure needs, like roads and bridges, as well as funds for broadband expansion and child care modernization. Republicans have criticized the plan, arguing that many of the  programs it includes are not truly infrastructure

“Today, (infrastructure) is broadband. Today it’s childcare. Today it’s all of those pieces that help Americans get to work and keep our economy running,” Axne said in April, noting that the U.S. needed to stay competitive with countries like China.

Since then, Biden has cut his proposal by more than $1 trillion, the New York Times reported. Still, Republican counteroffers remain far lower. Whereas Biden planned to fund the legislation by increasing corporate taxes, Republicans intend to finance the plan using unspent COVID-19 relief money. Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said Republicans would not support raising taxes on businesses and it would be a “hard sell” even to Democrats.

“Let’s reach an agreement on infrastructure that’s smaller but still significant and fully paid for,” he said.

Katie Akin
Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.