In infrastructure votes, 19 members broke with their party

In infrastructure votes, 19 members broke with their party

WASHINGTON — Infrastructure financing has traditionally been a bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill, but on Friday night, President Biden’s sweeping infrastructure bill was passed largely along party lines.

Only 19 members of Congress broke with their parties on the bill, which passed 228 to 206, with Democrats largely supporting the legislation and Republicans mostly against.

So who were those 19 lawmakers — 13 Republicans and six Democrats — who went against their parties? They can be roughly divided into three camps: Republicans who consulted with negotiators about the bill; Republicans who hold to the party’s traditional view that financing infrastructure is more important than fighting a president of another party; and members of the liberal group known as the Squad.

Six Democrats who are part of the progressive group known as “The Squad” — New York’s Jamaal Bowman, Missouri’s Cori Bush, New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts’ Ayanna S. Pressley, and Rashida Michigan Tlaib – voted against Mr Biden’s plan to spend $550 billion in new funds over 10 years to strengthen roads, bridges and highways, improve Internet access and modernize the nation’s electrical grid.

The squad has grown from four to six members since 2019, when Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, the most prominent progressive on Capitol Hill, entered Congress. Its members were among the key supporters of the strategy to use the infrastructure bill as leverage to implement Mr. Biden’s broader agenda: a $1.85 trillion social safety net and climate change.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has argued that the provisions in Mr. Biden’s bill to combat climate change are needed to offset the impact on the environment through a surge in financing for construction projects.

Passing the infrastructure bill without the larger domestic policy package “makes our emissions and climate crisis worse”, she wrote on Twitter in October. “It keeps us in the emission red.”

Her stance was shared by the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus until centrist Democrats who spoke out about the broader bill pledged Friday night that they would vote for it. no later than the week of November 15unless the Congressional Budget Office determines that the costs are “inconsistent” with the $1.85 trillion estimate put forth by Mr. Biden’s staff.

While most progressives subsequently agreed to vote in favor of the bill, members of the Squad did not find the centrists’ guarantees good enough and chose to stick to their stance to demand that both bills be passed at the same time. Ms. Bush said the mere passing of the infrastructure bill “jeopardized our influence” on the broader bill — which includes monthly payments to families with children, universal kindergarten, health care subsidies, and a four-week paid family and sick-leave program — and threatened progressives the ability to “improve the livelihoods of our health professionals, our children, our caregivers, our seniors and the future of our environment.”

Still, Ms Pressley waited to make sure the infrastructure bill got enough votes before voting against the measure.

That position infuriated some moderate Democrats. One of them, New York Representative Tom Suozzi, equated the opposition of fellow left-wing New Yorkers like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Mr. Bowman with far-right Republicans like New York’s Lee Zeldin for voting against a bill worth billions of dollars in the stands for subways, sewers, and broadband.

“That makes no sense,” Suozzi, who is considering running for governor, told reporters Saturday at a New York political conclave in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “These are two sides of the same coin: people who are so far on the margins instead of trying to get things done to help people and make people’s lives better. That makes people sick.”

Eight Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill: Don Bacon of Nebraska, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, John Katko of New York, Tom Reed of New York, Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey and Fred Michigan Upton — were part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who helped negotiate the infrastructure bill this summer, in consultation with centrists in the Senate.

The group known as the Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes Republican co-chair Mr. Fitzpatrick, had once hoped to get as many as 29 Republican House votes for the bill, but saw members drop when Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader of the House, and other top Republicans opposed it as they ramped up their campaign against Mr Biden’s agenda.

But with improvements to highways, bridges, dams, public transportation, rail, ports, airports, water quality and broadband coming to the districts, eight members of the group cast their votes for the plan.

Mr. Garbarino, who represents part of Long Island, cited the benefits for New York – including $24.9 billion for highways, bridges and transit; $15 billion to replace lead drinking water service lines; and $470 million for New York’s Kennedy, La Guardia, MacArthur, and Republic airports — one of his reasons for embracing the bill.

The vote “was about roads, bridges and clean water,” he said. “It was about real people, and the tangible action Congress could take to improve their lives by rebuilding and breathing new life into our country’s crumbling infrastructure.”

Republicans who voted in favor of the bill faced backlash from some of their party’s far-right members. Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene posted their office phone numbers on Twitter, accusing them of handing their “voting cards to Nancy Pelosi to relay Joe Biden’s communist takeover of America.”

A final group of five House Republicans joined members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to stop their party from supporting the bill. This group—Adam Kinzinger from Illinois, Don Young from Alaska, Nicole Malliotakis from New York, David B. McKinley from West Virginia, and Jeff Van Drew from New Jersey—can be broadly defined as the party that represents the party’s traditional view of financing infrastructure.

Mr. Young, 88, is the longest-serving member of the Republican Party, representing Alaska for 25 terms. He approved the bill in September, arguing that the party has always supported the financing of roads and bridges and stressed that votes on infrastructure have been unanimous in the past.

“We now need infrastructure in this country,” said Mr Young said. “This is the last chance we have to make sure those potholes are filled, those airports are working properly, bridges are safe and our economy can continue to grow.”

Others, much newer to Congress, said they shared Mr. Young’s view on the matter.

Ms. Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island in her first term, released a statement explaining her vote and listing several projects that could support funding in her community, including “completing the lane for high-occupancy vehicles on the Staten Island Expressway”, to reinforce the coast. neighborhoods and expanding “our sewer systems to face the next Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Ida.”

“Simply put, this type of investment will not only save time and money for city dwellers, but also their properties and lives,” she said.

Emily Cochrane, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos reporting contributed.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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