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South Florida Congressmen discuss infrastructure package, Afghanistan and more

Rep. Brian Mast (L) and Rep. Ted Deutch (R)
Posted at 9:55 AM, Aug 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-22 09:55:19-04

The United States House and Senate returns from a summer break this coming week. Lawmakers will be discussing various topics, including President Biden’s infrastructure package that passed the Senate a few weeks ago.

Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch, who represents Florida’s 22nd District, told WPTV Michael Williams he expects a bipartisan bill to pass the House.

“That is going to happen, whether it happens next week or in a few months we have to be clear about the level of accomplishment here,” Rep. Deutch said on To the Point. “What's so frustrating is that we are missing the opportunity to focus on the largest investment of public transit ever and for the state of Florida, over $13 billion for bridges and highways, over $3 billion for public transportation, over a billion dollars for airports."

Republican Congressman Brian Mast talks infrastructure bill, Afghanistan, and more

Republican Congressman Brian Mast, who represents Florida’s 18th District, disagreed, telling Williams he will not support a package that lumps too much together.

“"In the end, they are trying to lump everything into "infrastructure" that is totally unrelated and put it through a budget reconciliation package that I think has no business going through the House," Rep. Mast said.

Another topic that will be discussed in Congress, is the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Rep. Mast is a veteran and served in Afghanistan. He told Williams he is worried about the power the Taliban has gained in just a short time.

"Every single minute that goes by, the Taliban become more well aware of the capabilities that they now have,” Rep. Mast said. “America used to have the high ground, the fortified locations of the Bagram airport, the most heavily fortified airport anywhere, our embassy, the most fortified embassy anywhere. They now have those high grounds."

Rep. Mast also spoke about the weapons the Taliban has been able to secure.

"They now have the most advanced military weaponry, which includes weaponry to kill people on the ground but also shoot things out of the sky. That is a very dangerous situation,” Rep. Mast added.

Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch talks infrastructure bill, Afghanistan, and more

Meanwhile, Rep. Deutch, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said lawmakers will have to look at how the withdrawal happened and if anything different should have taken place to make a safer transition.

"This is something that we will be dealing with for a while, that said there will be time for us to figure out, and we are already at work on this on the Foreign Affairs Committee, to figure out exactly what happened and whether there was intelligence failures and how this decision was made but the fact is most people recognize that we are not going to stay in Afghanistan forever,” Rep. Deutch said. “Most people recognize that when the president of Afghanistan chose to flee and the Afghan army laid down their arms it proves that we could not have been there forever."

The U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic and the rising cases in the United States will also be on the top of mind for lawmakers, especially ones from Florida. The federal government has offered support to school districts who are facing funding issues after mandating masks in classrooms, which goes against state law.

Show wrapup

Rep. Mast and Rep. Deutch disagreed over Governor Ron DeSantis’ actions.

"Your doctor can tell you you need to this, this this and those things may all be accurate but freedom and the constitution also says as an individual in the United States of America you have the freedom to go out there and make those choices for yourself and that is the point where we need to be at,” Rep. Mast argued. "I think the governor is leading us in the right way, saying protect yourself the way you want to. If you want to wear a mask, you are free to. If you want to be vaccinated you are free to. If you want a booster you are free to, but that doesn't mean there has to be a requirement on every single person out there."

"Starting with the Governor frankly, we need to stop being on attack and in attack mode and start looking for ways to work together to do everything we can to stop the spread and keep everyone safe,” Rep. Deutch said. “"I understand how political everything is but on this one lets just wear masks to keep one another safe and if you are not vaccinated, I don't want to pass judgment, I want to encourage you to get vaccinated. That is the important thing for people to do now. It can help save their lives, their families' lives and it will help get this thing under control."

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