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Davis Says White House Infrastructure Plan Needs GOP Input

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U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, right, talks with Willard Airport Executive Director Tim Bannon, in front of an airport runway on Monday.

URBANA – Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis is appealing to bipartisanship, as he joins fellow Republicans in opposing the White House infrastructure plan.

Davis made his comments Monday at Willard Airport, south of Champaign, where he toured runway and taxiway improvements.

“Well this is awesome,” said Davis, as he was shown improvements paid for by federal funding he had supported in Congress (including two COVID-19 relief bills, the CARES and CRSSA Acts), along with money from state and local sources.

While maintaining his support for new infrastructure funding, Davis told reporters he does not like the new $2 trillion infrastructure proposal released by the Biden administration last week. He says the proposal includes too much of what he calls “Green New Deal” projects that are not genuinely about the nation’s infrastructure. Davis, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Subcommittee for Highways and Transit, says that during a White House meeting President Biden, he had argued for a bipartisan approach to infrastructure legislation, that would accept input from Republicans.

“And I do believe that the administration wanted to go a more bipartisan route, but I don’t think Speaker Pelosi and leader Schumer did,” said Davis, referring to the Democratic leaders of the U.S. House and Senate.

Davis says another blow against bipartisanship would be if Democrats use the budget reconciliation process to avoid a Senate filibuster as they steer the infrastructure bill through Congress.

The projects at Willard Airport include construction of a new taxiway to meet FAA design standards, costing $3.3 million; new signage and lighting on another taxiway, costing $1.3 million; the $12.4 million rebuilding of one of Willard Airport’s three runways; and $1.1 million for a new aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle, and a carrier vehicle with broom equipment to clear away snow.

Executive director Tim Bannon says after work on Runway 4-22 is complete it will be time to look at upgrading another one.

“It’s a never-ending work in progress”, said Bannon. “And one you get it all complete, you have to start over again.”

Doubts About Redistricting Process

Rep. Davis also voiced his doubts about the redistricting process in Illinois. An Illinois House committee is holding regional hearings this week and next on the matter. They’ll be receiving testimony from the public as they prepare to draw up new boundaries for legislative and congressional districts.

Davis says Democrats have controlled the redistricting process in Illinois for years, and the result has been gerrymandered district maps. He says his own 13th Congressional District is an example.

“It’s a gerrymandered district that was put in central Illinois to elect a Democrat,” said Davis, who has defeated Democratic challengers throughout the past decade, some of whom were considered strong contenders. “We’ve beaten the trend every election cycle here. But it’s still a gerrymandered district. And I certainly hope the governor will live up to his campaign promise not to sign a gerrymandered map.”

As a candidate for governor in 2018, J-B Pritzker said that he favored setting up an independent commission to draw legislative and congressional district boundaries. 

Last week, a group of Republican lawmakers led by State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) introduced a bill that would create an independent commission to draw new legislative and congressional district maps. State Senator Jason Barickman.

Independent redistricting commissions are also part of H.R. 1, the House Democrats’ electoral reform bill that passed the U.S. House last month on a party-line vote. Davis says while he favors the commission proposal, he could not support H.R. 1, because of its campaign finance proposals, which includes providing federal funds to match small campaign donations to candidates.

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Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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