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Fortenberry tells Lincoln Chamber he's weighing prospects of Biden agenda
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Fortenberry tells Lincoln Chamber he's weighing prospects of Biden agenda

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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry told a Lincoln Chamber of Commerce audience Tuesday that he believes a slimmed-down infrastructure bill eventually will clear Congress, "probably without Republican votes," while a measure to raise the nation's debt ceiling will be approved with some bipartisan support.

The Republican congressman did not say whether he might be one of those votes, and he left the Country Club of Lincoln following a luncheon address after scrapping a tentatively arranged media availability.

Fortenberry said he is "interested in a right-sized infrastructure bill."

As for the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that contains safety-net funding for social programs, Fortenberry said "it probably would be pared way back if it passes."

Those issues have dominated the agenda in Washington in recent days, although the battleground is chiefly in the Senate, not the House.

President Joe Biden, in a bid to win over the votes of Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, has reduced the price tag on the so-called $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package to a range between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

"Manchin has become a favorite son among Republicans," Fortenberry said. 

Fortenberry raised funds for possible legal defense

Fortenberry said "an unprecedented level of spending" in Washington could lead to potential tax hikes, as well as "a concentration of power in DC."

In a presentation that took the form of a report to his constituents in eastern Nebraska's 1st District, the Lincoln congressman said he is "very excited" about approaching development of a U.S. Department of Agriculture research center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Innovation Campus.

Some $11.2 million in funding for planning and design of the long-sought agricultural research component was contained in the 2021 omnibus federal appropriations package.  

Fortenberry is the ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee's agriculture subcommittee.

Don Walton: Democrats focused on Omaha in redistricting

The congressman also pointed to major improvements at Offutt Air Force Base, including ongoing construction of a new runway. Fortenberry represents the base in Sarpy County along with Bellevue.

Fortenberry’s speaking engagement Tuesday came a day following news media coverage of a federal investigation of illegal donations to his reelection campaign by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire that was resolved by a U.S. Department of Justice settlement with the contributor.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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