A $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill the Republican Study Committee criticized as “a Green New Deal Lite” just passed the House of Representatives and is headed to President Joe Biden for signature.
Considering the bill has already passed the Senate, that’s pretty big news by itself, but an even bigger issue is that the radical Green New Dealers in the Democratic House caucus didn’t think it went far enough.
And the biggest issue of all might be that it wouldn’t have passed if 13 Republicans didn’t vote for a massive spending bill that could save President Joe Biden’s Democratic agenda.
According to the New York Post, the 13 GOP members were Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Nicole Malliotakis of New York, David McKinley of West Virginia, Tom Reed of New York, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Don Young of Alaska.
Malliotakis, a Republican whose district encompasses one of the few conservative areas of New York City — Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn — said the bill would “improve the safety and prosperity of communities across America and make the necessary improvements to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century.”
“For far too long, our local, state, and federal leaders have neglected to modernize New York City’s aging infrastructure to keep pace with economic and population growth,” she said.
“The funding stream we are providing today will be used by states and cities to modernize roads, highways, bridges, sewer systems, and flood resiliency projects, including right here on Staten Island and in Southern Brooklyn.”
Other Republicans who voted for it held up the bill as a necessity. New York’s Katko posted a message to Twitter in which he said the infrastructure bill was a “win” but that he didn’t vote for the larger Democratic spending bill — the so-called “Build Back Better” plan pegged for the moment at $1.75 million.
My statement on tonight’s votes in the House. pic.twitter.com/T6deqceSpS
— Rep. John Katko (@RepJohnKatko) November 6, 2021
“This bill is a win,” Katko wrote, promising the spending would deliver a “once in a generation investment in our nation’s physical infrastructure including our roads and bridges, ports and waterways, broadband networks, electrical grid, clean water systems, and airports.”
“Make no mistake: This bill is a win for Central New York. I urge the president to move swiftly in signing it into law.”
Kinzinger “defended” his vote by quote-tweeting Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene criticism of Republicans who supported the bill, then likening the new measure to President Dwight Eisenhower’s construction of the nation’s highway system.
Infrastructure=communism is a new one. Eisenhower’s interstate system should be torn up or else the commies will be able to conveniently drive! Red Dawn in real life pic.twitter.com/WTPtBYDSHx
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) November 6, 2021
“Infrastructure=communism is a new one,” Kinzinger quipped.
“Eisenhower’s interstate system should be torn up or else the commies will be able to conveniently drive! Red Dawn in real life.”
Kinzinger’s analysis may have tried to strike the right notes for his audience. (The original 1984 film “Red Dawn” featured American teenagers battling a Soviet takeover of the U.S. A 2012 remake featured a considerably less credible North Korean invasion.) But this bill isn’t just investing massive amounts of money for something as essential as Eisenhower’s interstate system.
As a Republican Study Group tweet noted, there was plenty of wokeness to go around in this one:
The bipartisan infrastructure proposal floating around the Senate is essentially a Green New Deal Lite.
— RSC (@RepublicanStudy) August 2, 2021
Other Republicans defended themselves by trying to defend the benefits of the infrastructure bill versus its costs.
My statement on today’s vote for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. pic.twitter.com/o2LzLpDc8k
— Rep. Andrew Garbarino (@RepGarbarino) November 6, 2021
New York’s Garbarino took lessons from the Biden media team and clamed the “infrastructure bill will not raise taxes or increase costs to American families.”
However, it would provide lots of funds to the New York City area’s infrastructure, so he’s in:
“What it will do is allocate $24.9 billion for New York Highways, bridges and transit, provide $15 billion to replace lead service lines for New York drinking water, grant $470 million to New York’s MacArthur, Republic, LaGuardia and JFK airports, and fund many other vital infrastructure projects that Long Island residents desperately need,” he said in a statement.
But it won’t raise taxes. Gotcha.
And there were others scrambling to defend themselves:
…expand broadband to underserved communities, strengthen our energy grid against Russian & Chinese cyberattacks & create jobs across SW MI…
— Rep. Fred Upton (@RepFredUpton) November 6, 2021
— Rep. Fred Upton (@RepFredUpton) November 6, 2021
Our country is an economic powerhouse in no small part due to our historical support for infrastructure projects. Perhaps more than anyone else, Alaskans know just how vital reliable infrastructure is to stay connected with one another and secure upward economic mobility.
— Rep. Don Young (@repdonyoung) November 6, 2021
Keep in mind that, according to the New York Post, the Democratic progressives in New York who voted against the bill — Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for instance — are being roundly criticized because the sweet federal government money isn’t coming home to their districts.
“I don’t know why she voted against it,” retired college professor Michael Goodman told the Post. “For decades New York has given more money than they’ve gotten back. Politics is the art of compromise. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
According to the Post, AOC was willing to vote no because she said the infrastructure bill would increase greenhouse gas emissions.
“My main concern is … we just locked in the United States to increase its climate emissions,” Ocasio-Cortez told her followers on Instagram Live. “I did not feel that I had the assurances in that moment to vote to increase U.S. climate emissions for an IOU.”
That’s fine. Probably stupid, from a party point of view, given this ordinarily would have meant the Democrats didn’t have the votes, but fine.
Should these Republicans be punished by conservative voters?
Yes: 98% (61 Votes)
No: 2% (1 Votes)
However, what’s not fine is the decision these 13 Republicans made.
This was an opportunity for these representatives to hold up Biden’s spend-a-palooza. As the Washington Examiner noted, without the six Democrats who voted against it, the Democrats shouldn’t have had enough votes. It should have been the job of Nancy Pelosi & Co. to make AOC and Bowman vote with the rest of their party or make their party blow up the bill.
Considering last week’s defeats in Virginia elections and elsewhere, as well as the closer-than-expected governor’s race in New Jersey, the Biden-Democratic agenda has not been seeing good days lately. A defeat on the infrastructure bill could have been a devastating blow to a president already on the ropes.
Instead, these Republicans saved the day for the Democrats because they either loathe where the party is going — a la Kinzinger and Gonzalez — or want that sweet, sweet federal cash to buy off their constituents.
GOP voters would be wise to take note.