WASHINGTON (AP) – The last time Congress passed a major federal highway renovation and other transportation programs, votes were 359-65 in the House and 83-16 in the Senate. It was supported by nearly all Democrats and a robust majority of republicans.
This year $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill he easily passed Senate 69-13 with support from the Republican Party, but crept through the House last week for 228-206 with just 13 Republican votes.
Those deserters were later ferocious by the former president Donald Trump, far-right representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., called them “traitors” while tweeting their names and office phone numbers, and one of the 13 claims he received a death threat.
The votes, six years on, and the harsh backlash against maverick Republicans illustrate a GOP in which conservative voices have grown stronger and more militant, fueled by Trump’s bellicose four years in office.
An increasing number of progressives have done so Democrats even more liberal, with both shifts fueling a tightening of bias in Washington.
“This madness has to stop,” said Rep Fred Upton, R-Mich., An 18-term moderate, who said his offices received dozens of threatening calls after his vote yes. This included an obscenity-filled rant provided by the aides in which the caller repeatedly called Upton a “traitor” and expressed hope that the lawmaker, his family and his aides would die.
Upton closed his two Michigan offices for a day and reopened them after increasing their security.
This year’s bill, triple the size of 2015, is a keystone of President Joe Biden’s drive to create jobs and building the nation’s roads, water systems, broadband coverage, and other projects. A compromise between Democratic and Republican senators will do send money to every state and it’s the kind of bill that politicians have loved to promote at home for decades. Biden plans to sign it on Monday.
Democrats say the GOP’s opposition to the bill is indefensible for political and political reasons.
“It’s a sad statement of how the other side has lost its way,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, DN.Y., who is leading the political arm of the Democratic House in a 2022 campaign in which Republicans have solid chances of seizing control of Congress. “If you want our country to fail so that you can say things are bad and take power for yourself, you behave like House Republicans do.”
But for many Republicans, infrastructure projects – once an issue that the two parties would work on thoughtfully together for mutual national benefit – now offer a complex political calculation.
“When it comes to politics these days, we are basically divided into two tribes. And stay with your tribe and don’t try to help the other tribe, ”said Glen Bolger, pollster and GOP strategist.
As president, Trump has repeatedly promised his massive infrastructure plan but never produced one, making the phrase “infrastructure week” a Washington synonym for “pipe dream.” But he opposes the current package, and his ability to rally his conservative supporters against those who stand in his way was a factor when GOP lawmakers decided how to vote.
Even so, the retaliatory cries of the far right against the 13 Republicans for infrastructure, largely moderated by the Northeast and Midwest, prompted their own rejection.
“The idea that we’re going to have people on the fringes, in terms of Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world and others, imposing some sort of purity test on the substance is madness,” said Rep Liz Cheney, R. -Wyo. Cheney has been at war with Trump and the far right of the party since he supported his impeachment earlier this year.
Cheney opposed the bill, saying it contained clean energy and other provisions that would harm Wyoming. He said the 13 Republicans who supported him are “among some of our best members” who did “because it was the right thing for their districts.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., A shameless partisan warrior, was among 19 Senate Republicans who voted for the bill in August. McConnell, who doesn’t have to worry about being re-elected until 2026, said this week he was “happy” that the measure is aimed at Biden.
The day before, McConnell had already drawn Trump’s ire.
Trump released a statement vilifying GOP senators who backed the bill for “thinking helping the Democrats was a wonderful thing to do.” Those Republicans “should be ashamed of themselves, especially Mitch McConnell,” Trump wrote.
That was just the tip of the iceberg for attacks.
In an interview, the leader of the Conservative House Freedom Caucus said GOP lawmakers should consider removing 10 of the 13 defectors who are the oldest Republicans on committees and subcommittees from their posts. “I respect their right to vote in their districts and their conscience. But that doesn’t mean they should get the privilege of leading “House Republicans,” said Rep Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
During a private dinner in Florida on Monday to bolster the prospects for the GOP House campaign, Trump said he loved the House Republicans but not the 13 who voted for the bill, according to a participant who described Trump’s remarks to condition of anonymity.
Earlier, House GOP leaders tweeted, and then deleted, that “Americans won’t forget” a vote for the “socialist” infrastructure bill. “Time to name and hold these fake Republicans accountable,” tweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.
Ahead of last week’s vote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Said it would be “very difficult” for Republicans to promote support for the infrastructure bill during their campaigns because it is so closely related. to the $ 1.85 trillion of Democrats and climate measures that the GOP has firmly opposed.
Representative Jeff Van Drew, RN.J., who changed sides in 2019, said he supported the infrastructure bill because his state would receive more than $ 20 billion “which we desperately need.” Van Drew, who said he heard “some cranky things” from some people, scoffed at the idea that the bill would “catapult the president” politically.
“If Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to be mean to me, that’s fine,” he said of the colleague who tagged him and 12 other traitors. “I love America very much. I would never do anything to hurt this country. “
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin of New York contributed to this report.