On Wednesday, President Joe Biden introduced a sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package. The proposal aims to reshape the American economy and make the most wide-ranging investments in infrastructure in generations.  

The infrastructure package comes as the debate over tougher gun control laws heats up following recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado.  

Connecting Point’s Ray Hershel spoke with Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern to get his thoughts on the chance of more restrictive federal gun laws passing this year and reacts to the President’s massive infrastructure proposal. 

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: On Wednesday, President Joe Biden introduced a sweeping two trillion dollar infrastructure and jobs package. The proposal aims to reshape the American economy, in addition to making the most wide ranging U.S. investments in generations.

The infrastructure package comes as the debate over tougher gun control laws heats up following recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado.

Connecting Point’s Ray Hershel spoke with Massachusetts 2nd District Congressman Jim McGovern to get his thoughts on what the chances are that more restrictive gun laws could become a reality this year, as well as his reaction to the president’s massive infrastructure proposal.

Rep. Jim McGovern, (D – Northampton): We have neglected our infrastructure for decades, and we see the results: aging roads and bridges, water and sewer facilities that are need to be repaired. You know, where we’re not investing in housing, we’re not investing in rail or in our airports. I go right down the list.

So, this is a much-needed initiative and it’s paid for by asking big corporations, many of them who have escaped paying taxes because of all the loopholes and some of the tax bills that were passed over the years, including Trump’s tax bill, to actually pay their fair share. So we’re not going to add to the deficit, but we’re going to invest in our infrastructure, which means we’re investing in jobs and in our economy. And so I’m gonna do everything I can to try to bring it over the finish line.

Ray Hershel, Connecting Point: What would this particular infrastructure bill, as the president has detailed it, mean for Massachusetts itself? How would it help the Bay State?

Rep. Jim McGovern: Well, Congressman Neal and I have been, you know, a huge cheerleader for East-West rail. So, I think I would expect that a big chunk of this bill will go to support rail projects all across the country, including the one we want to see here in Massachusetts.

It means upgrades in aging water and sewer systems, upgrades in roads and bridges that are in disrepair. And it also means that we could invest in housing, which is a necessity, and in school repairs, which will also be covered by this. So Massachusetts, which is an old state and we have old infrastructure, will benefit greatly from this.

Ray Hershel: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the infrastructure proposal a Trojan horse full of big tax hikes. With that kind of opposition and that kind of feeling, what do you feel going forward? You’re going to be able to get any kind of Republican support?

Rep. Jim McGovern: Well, I don’t really care what Mitch McConnell says. I mean, Mitch McConnell has been a hindrance to moving progressive and thoughtful legislation forward for many years now.

You know, when the Republicans were in charge of the Senate, the House, and the presidency, they did nothing on infrastructure. This was not a priority. And and the fact is their priority was tax cuts mostly for rich people, a tax bill that allowed big corporations, many of them, to escape, paying any federal taxes. And their other priority was trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act and throw millions of people off of their health insurance.

So we have a different set of priorities. Whether or not we get some Republican senators and members of Congress to support it or not remains to be seen, but we need to get it done.

Ray Hershel: Congressman McGovern wanted to get your thoughts on another issue that is come up obviously year after year and certainly now in the wake of recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and also in Boulder, Colorado.

What is the likelihood that we could see meaningful, tougher gun control legislation enacted into law this legislative session?

Rep. Jim McGovern: Well, I’m sick about the fact that, you know, in spite of massacres that have occurred on a regular basis in this country, in spite of the high uptick in gun-related deaths, that Congress has been able to get anything done. We had a president under Trump who, you know, was in the back pocket of the gun lobby, didn’t want to do anything.

But I you know, we have President Biden wants to expand universal background checks. He wants to close loopholes. He supports the ban on assault weapons. I mean, why does anybody need an assault weapon? Why do you need a weapon of war? You know, unless it is to kill somebody?

And by the way, I saw a poll today that. Seventy five percent of the American people favor expanding universal background checks. I mean, 65 percent favor a ban on assault weapons. So this is wildly popular. The only place it’s not popular is with some senators, who are in the back pocket of the gun lobby, who benefit financially from their contributions, and who are more committed to supporting a special interest in the public interest.

Ray Hershel: And, Congressman, one of the the issues that has come up with regard to background checks is that, for example, Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, can’t support the House passed bills, the two bills that were passed in the House with regard to background checks, of course, and assault weapons.

With regard to the background checks, the senator feels that if an individual is selling his gun privately, I want to sell you a gun or vice versa, that that individual shouldn’t have to undergo massive background checks. Yes, maybe for commercial sales and gun shows and that kind of thing.

Could you support a proposal that would would not allow background checks for individual sales?

Rep. Jim McGovern Look, I think Senator Manchin’s concern is unwarranted and quite frankly, misses the point. I mean, the bottom line is, you know, I should not be able to sell a gun to somebody who has a you know, who would feel a criminal background check. I mean, why why does that make sense?

And it really is offensive that parents who have lost their children to gun violence come to Congress and plead with senators and members of Congress to do something. And up until now, nothing happens that just has to change. And we have a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, and a Democrat in the White House who actually understands the pain of gun violence in this country. So, maybe the stars are aligned that we can get something done.