Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said Sunday he won’t support the $1.2 trillion hard infrastructure bill because it’s coupled with the $1.7 trillion social spending bill — and his voters are worried about debt.
In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation” ahead of his traveling to Glasgow to attend a climate summit, Curtis argued “this thing has been botched from the beginning.”
“This was negotiated in good faith in the Senate, and I have no doubt had it come straight to the House, it would have passed with strong Republican support,” he said. “But the reality of it is we were told from the very beginning that this was coupled with the reconciliation spending. Was just a no-go for Republicans.”
According to Curtis, “my state is more worried about debt than handouts from the federal government.”
“Sure, there’s some good things in that bipartisan infrastructure bill, but the reality of it is, is that’s not the vote,” he said, asserting Democrats have “been very clear” about coupling the bill with a social spending plan.
Noting the infrastructure provides money for nuclear energy development, which Utah supports, Curtis said hydrogen and fossil fuels should have been included.
“A blind squirrel could find a nut in a forest, right? That’s what it’s like looking through this bill, trying to find something that you like in it,” he complained. “Six billion dollars out of trillions and trillions of dollars isn’t really a serious effort to explore things that really are fundamental if we’re going to get to a green future….hydrogen and fossil fuels have got to be part of the conversation. We’ve reduced more greenhouse gas emissions here in the United States with fossil fuels than the entire Green New Deal could have ever dreamed of doing. And it’s a mistake to demonize fossil fuels. They’re actually part of our answer.”
He also asserted “Republicans do care” about protecting the planet, and that there doesn’t need to be a lot of incentives because the marketplace is strong.
“I guarantee you there are more Republicans here than most places, and I know deep down, everybody cares about this planet,” he said. “We want to do what’s best for it. We want to leave it off better for our children. It’s fair to say we’re turned off by the extremist rhetoric, and we don’t always agree on the way to get there. But I can promise you, Republicans do care deeply.”
“I have full confidence in this marketplace now,” he added. “That’s not to say that as a government… we shouldn’t be looking for those areas to incentivize and help and poke and prod along the way. “
For Curtis, nuclear energy is a viable option, and said unlike other states, Utah wants it “in our backyard.”
“A lot of times when we think about nuclear, we think about our grandparents nuclear and we need to change our paradigm on that,” he said. “U.S. innovation and technology can lead us past the concerns that we have with nuclear, whether it be safety or whatever those concerns are. We don’t have to accept old generation nuclear.”
Curtis said his state is “one of the few [conglomerates of municipalities] … that have actually made it partway through the permitting process for a small nuclear reactor,” then added, “and PacifiCorp … a major utility here, is working with Warren Buffett to bring nuclear.”