About Nicole Malliotakis

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Nicole Malliotakis is a Republican who represents New York’s 11th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. This is a swing neighborhood. Representative Malliotakis won it in 2020, 53-47. He defeated a Democratic incumbent who, in turn, defeated a Republican incumbent in 2018.

Malliotakis is one of 13 Republicans who voted to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill last week. In the Senate, 19 Republicans – 38 percent of the GOP caucus – voted in favor. Majority leader McConnell was one of them. Others included Charles Grassley, Deb Fischer, James Risch and Kevin Cramer – hardly “RINO” in any fair sense.

Malliotakis is under fire for his vote. There is nothing wrong with that. Members of Congress are, of course, responsible for how they vote.

But some of the attacks go too far. Exaggerated conservatives they call the Republican “yes” a “betrayal” and demand that any GOP representative who voted that way be challenged in the primary.

(As reported by Donald Trump railed versus 13 at the Republican National Congress Committee dinner on Monday. Reports I have seen do not indicate exactly what Trump said, but knowing him, the attacks may have been exaggerated. Malliotakis was reportedly visibly shaken.)

Malliotakis voted for the legislation because he considers it meritorious. He says it will benefit his district, which needs significant infrastructure improvements and isn’t the only one.

It is not a “betrayal” to vote on a bill that, on balance, is approved. Indeed, it can be argued that, given the merit conclusion reached by Malliotakis, voting against the bill would have been a betrayal. A congressman’s loyalty should be to his conscience and his constituents, not to a party or ideology.

Nor is it clear that “primary” Malliotakis is a good idea. Is there another Republican in your borough who is likely to hold him for the GOP? That candidate is conservative, in general, like Malliotakis. Would that candidate have voted against infrastructure legislation favored by most of the district’s voters? Unless the answer to each of these questions is a sure “yes”, a challenge to Malliotakis from within his group makes no sense.

I am not saying that Malliotakis voted as I would have voted on the infrastructure law. Not her. But her vote was not a “betrayal” and entrusting her to the primary is not necessarily a good idea.

I also question the premise that Malliotakis voted against the bill, he would be defeated. Legislation did not need his vote to pass the House.

Indeed, even if every member of the GOP had voted “no” (and how likely is it that neither House Democrats nor Senate Republicans were unanimous on the issue?) It is not clear that the bill would have been rejected. It is more likely that enough Democrats who voted against the measure because they knew Pelosi and Biden didn’t need their vote would have provided the “yes” votes needed to pass the bill in a scenario where all Republicans they were united.

So it is probably the case that all the Malliotaki and other GOP “renegades” allowed the six far-left Democrats to vote according to their conscience. It is not a betrayal, not if Malliotakis and the others were voting their conscience.

But suppose the Infrastructure Act no longer managed to get through the house. In all likelihood, the same $ 1.2 trillion would have been included in the reconciliation bill the Democrats are working on. And since Joe Manchin is strongly in favor of spending the $ 1.2 trillion, he may have given left-wing Democrats some extra “Build Back Better” money to make sure the Democrats reach a deal.

Passing infrastructure legislation on a more autonomous basis means that this money cannot be held hostage by the far left that wants to maximize spending on reconciliation. So, if anything, switching the $ 1.2 trillion package could reduce the final price of the two combined bills. More likely, it won’t have any effect one way or another.

I understand what contemporary tribal political battles have become. I also understand why, to a large extent, it has to be.

But I don’t understand the need to demonize members like Nicole Malliotakis for having voted in favor of a measure that favors on the merits, which her constituents and the country as a whole favor, and which would have passed even without her vote.

One last point. Earlier in her career, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, another New York congresswoman, although hailing from a different part of the state, was sometimes criticized for not invariably voting for the Conservative line. Stefanik, however, proved to be a key player in opposing Donald Trump’s impeachment. He is now a hero among some conservatives.

I don’t know what the trajectory of Representative Mallitakis will be if he stays in the House. But I don’t think Conservatives should try to abort his career for a vote that was most likely irrelevant to the fate of the money in question.

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