Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for a Senate seat in Georgia, blasted a new law that's aimed in part at fighting climate change, arguing it will waste money on trees.
"They continue to try to fool you like they're helping you out, but they're not," Walker said Sunday at a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Sandy Springs, near Atlanta, days after President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. "They're not helping you out, because a lot of the money is going into trees. You know that, don't you? It's going into trees. We've got enough trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?”
Walker's remarks in response to a question about the measure were first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The bill Biden signed will raise about $700 billion through corporate tax increases and prescription drug savings and spend about $400 billion on clean energy and health care provisions.
Walker stood by his remarks Monday night.
"Yes, you heard me right," Walker wrote on Twitter, saying Biden and his Democratic opponent in November, Sen. Raphael Warnock, "are spending $1.5 billion on 'urban forestry.'"
The new law provides $1.5 billion in grants to state agencies and nonprofit organizations "for tree planting and related activities," according to the bill's text.
Will Kiley, a spokesperson for Walker’s campaign, said in an email that Walker “was commenting on how Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden spent billions of taxpayer dollars, in a recession, to do absolutely nothing to combat inflation and provide relief to hard-working Georgians.”
Walker was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who largely dismissed climate change but said the U.S. would join the World Economic Forum’s initiative to plant and protect 1 trillion trees by 2030. In the final weeks of his presidency, Trump signed an executive order that established the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council.
The closely watched Senate race in Georgia is one of several in which Republicans have nominated first-time candidates backed by Trump to run against seasoned Democratic politicians. Others include races in Arizona, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., last week cited "candidate quality" when he said Republicans might not win control of the evenly split chamber in November. He did not name any specific candidates.