Are you a Republican — or did you vote for the infrastructure bill? That’s the binary choice offered to House GOP members by the right-wing of the party. The thirteen representatives who voted to pass the landmark legislation find themselves in the sights of not just their fellow members of Congress, like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn, but also former president Donald Trump, whose list of primary targets grows longer by the day.
In a Saturday email, Trump called for “good and SMART America First Republican Patriots to run primary campaigns” against both the members who’d voted for the infrastructure bill and the members who had voted to impeach him for causing the January 6 storming of the Capitol. “You will have my backing!” he asserted.
“These are the 13 ‘Republicans’ who handed over their voting cards to Nancy Pelosi to pass Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America via so-called infrastructure,” Greene tweeted, along with the office phone numbers of those thirteen colleagues.
“Vote for this infrastructure bill and I will primary the hell out of you,” Cawthorn tweeted earlier this month.
Should Trump’s GOP really consider support for the first major federal infrastructure bill in over a decade an act of treachery on a par with support for Trump’s second impeachment? It’s a strange world where voting on behalf of your voters’ interests is seen as an act of party disloyalty.
Lest we forget, House Republicans were also very vocal in their opposition to the American Rescue Plan. Not a single GOP member voted for it
Then after opposing the bill, many of them touted its fruits to their constituents after securing funds from it. “Happy to announce that NC-11 was awarded grants from the US Department of Health & Human Services,” Cawthorn tweeted, before listing the four local health departments in his district and the sums they received. “Proud to see tax-payer dollars returned to NC-11.”
Elise Stefanik said the American Rescue Plan was “filled with pork projects, special interest giveaways, and the far-left’s policy wish list” in February. By April she was pointing out how “the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will open to assist restaurants and food establishments in their recovery efforts” — without acknowledging that the fund had been created by the bill she’d voted against.
Talk about having your handout and eating it.
It’s not farfetched to imagine that history might repeat itself here. Therefore on principle, the likes of Stefanik, Cawthorn and Greene should swear not to take a cent of President Biden’s grubby infrastructure money. “Let the bridges crumble and the roads crack,” they should cry, “the Democrats will never own us!”
There are, of course, solid conservative arguments against supporting the infrastructure bill. How can we be sure the money will be spent well? How slimy are the lobbyists who’ll secure the most lucrative government contracts? These questions are being asked by some Republicans — but they’re being drowned out by a louder one: why should we give the Dems a win?
As long as policy discussions are shoved to the wayside in favor of red-team, blue-team snittiness and bipartisanship is perceived as a pox, politicians will achieve less and voters will grow even more disdainful of Washington.