WASHINGTON, D.C. (KDKA) — U.S. Senator Pat Toomey said he supports a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and is waiting for a second vote to be taken on the issue.
In a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday with KDKA political editor Jon Delano, Toomey rejected claims that he was holding up a transportation bill because he opposed more funding for public transit.READ MORE: Police Investigating Strip District Shooting, Man Left In Critical Condition
Pennsylvania’s Republican senator has announced his retirement, but he’s still in the thick of things at the U.S. Capitol.
Generally conservative, Toomey, who voted to convict Donald Trump for his actions on Jan. 6, is not always predictable — and he’s not quitting early.
“Don’t push me out the door too early. I’ve got 18 months before I retire, so that’s a lot of time, a lot of time to be as productive as I can,” said the senator.
WATCH: Jon Delano Reports
The Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol disturbed him, and although he missed the first vote on a bipartisan commission to investigate, he will support that action if Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brings it back for another vote.
“It was a very, very terrible, terrible moment for the country and something we need to thoroughly understand,” said Toomey.
Toomey supports a commission with five Republicans and five Democrats, but he said both parties must have staff, not just the Democrats.
“If there’s not an agreement between the Ds and the Rs on a common staff, then they both should have their own staff. And Senator (Susan) Collins has led the effort to make that change. I will support the creation of a commission to do this investigation provided the Collins amendment were to pass.”
On another issue, some accuse Toomey, the senior Republican on the Senate Urban Affairs Committee, of blocking the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill because he opposes more funding for public transit.READ MORE: Anthony Gonzalez, House Republican Who Voted To Impeach Pres. Trump Won't Run Again
Toomey said transit agencies have received plenty in coronavirus relief dollars.
“In addition to the $13 billion that the federal government routinely sends to the transit agencies, we sent another $70 billion – not 17, 7-0 — for a total of $83 billion in about a one-year period,” said Toomey. “They haven’t figured out how they’re going to spend the absolutely unprecedented and staggering amount of money they’re still sitting on. So my position is, how about we go back to normal funding?”
Toomey said while public transit spends what they’ve received, an inflation-adjusted $13 billion is enough.
Toomey was one of the Republicans in the early round of negotiations for a bipartisan infrastructure bill, but he’s not part of the current group of 21 senators — 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats — trying to hammer out an agreement.
Still, Toomey said he’s hoping for a bill he can vote for.
He knows Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation and an infusion of cash to repair them, as President Joe Biden has proposed, makes sense. But the Republican has some conditions for his vote.
First, a bill limited to just physical infrastructure, not social programs. Second, no change in tax laws. Democrats want to slightly hike the corporate tax rate cut dramatically under former President Trump. And third, says Toomey, the infrastructure bill should be funded using coronavirus relief money, not adding to the national debt.
Asked if he thinks the often-deadlocked Senate might pass an infrastructure bill, he’s optimistic.
“It’s not only possible, but if I were to hazard a guess, I would say the odds slightly favor getting it done. So a little better than even,” he said.
“If we do those three things, then you’d have very broad Republican support, a lot of bipartisan support. Now the left-wing of the Democratic Party has already said if it doesn’t include the expansion of the welfare state, they’re out. So it’s a challenging needle to thread, but it’s still entirely possible,” Sen. Toomey said.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Deaths In West Virginia This Month Double That From August
As for the amount of money targeted for infrastructure, Toomey is willing to go higher than some Republicans as long as his three other conditions are met.