WASHINGTON – Republicans are increasingly at odds over a bipartisan infrastructure bill that will soon become law, and tensions are mounting among GOP members over whether the party should remain united against all aspects of President Joe Biden’s agenda or strike deals on those rare occasions. when there are points of contact.
Former President Donald Trump has called for the bill to be rejected, ridiculing Republicans who voted in favor of the measure, saying they should be “ashamed of themselves” for “helping the Democrats.”
At a private event hosted by a House GOP spokesman on Monday night in Florida, Trump singled out time from his 90-minute speech, which focused on his false election claims and attacks on Biden to strike at 13 GOP MPs. House of Representatives that support the infrastructure package.
“I love all House Republicans. Well, actually, I don’t love you all. I don’t like the 13 people who voted for Biden’s infrastructure plan, ”Trump said, according to the recollection of a person who attended the event and spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting.
His comments came just hours after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, told reporters in his home state that he was “glad” the bill would soon be signed, touting the improvements he would bring to roads and bridges of Kentucky.
“This will be the first time I have come here in a quarter century that I thought there might be a way forward over the Brent Spence Bridge,” McConnell said, referring to a bridge connecting Kentucky, according to a local report. and Ohio is one of the bottlenecks in the country.
The controversy and grievances over the bill reflect the extent to which Republicans have identified themselves in the mid-term of 2022 as opposing everything that Biden and the Democrats stand for. Any rift in this approach has led to accusations of disloyalty from Trump and his allies, as well as anxiety among many GOP leaders who are unsure how to proceed in a situation where the party is not fully opposed to Biden.
Tensions are greatest in the House of Representatives, where some of the members who voted in favor of the bill have been the subject of sharp criticism from colleagues – led by Trump supporters Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and Madison Cowthorne of North Carolina. – and received threatening and threatening messages in their offices.
Representative Fred Upton, R-Michigan. “Moderate, who voted for the infrastructure package,” said during an interview Monday night on CNN that the caller had left a cursing message in his office and called him a traitor. “I hope you die,” the caller said, adding that he hoped everyone in his family died as well.
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have done nothing to come to the rescue of the 13 proponents of the bill, remaining silent even as these members publicly disclose the persecution they faced. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Office, Republic of California, did not respond to a request for comment.
Rep. John Katko, RN.Y., supported his vote for the bill on Tuesday, saying it would help improve “the dire state of our infrastructure,” while noting that his office received “a significant number of disturbing phone calls.”
“Ronald Reagan always makes deals with the Democrats for the good of the country. This is what we have to do. This is not a zero sum game, ”he told Spectrum News on Tuesday. “There will always be skeptics on the cheap seats, but that’s the nature of business. But the bottom line is that we have to move this country forward. “
Senate Republicans have largely avoided criticism of their 19 counterparts who voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill in August. And much of the anger against House 13 Republicans is fueled by the argument that they bailed out the Democrats with their votes, otherwise the bill would have failed for Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California.
With this in mind, Trump’s allies want to punish these members, especially those in leadership positions on committees.
Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Tuesday in an interview with Stephen Bannon’s War Room podcast that all 13 members should be “absolutely” barred from committee appointments by the House leadership in the coming days.
“These people voted for Joe Biden, an infrastructure bill that would clear the way for increased socialist spending, which, frankly, would win Joe Biden,” Meadows said. “I don’t know how you can send a clearer message than saying,“ Look, obviously you are not on our team. We’re going to pass this leadership position on to someone else. “
GOP leaders have also been criticized for not keeping all members in line after weeks of trying to dissuade Republicans from voting on the bill, or at least withdraw their support until it becomes clear that Democrats have enough votes. to pass the law.
However, 15 minutes after the roll call on Friday night, five Republicans had already voted in favor before even one Democrat voted against, making it clear that the law would be passed without much democratic drama. All five – Upton, Katko and representatives Jeff Van Drew, RN.J., Don Young, R-Alaska, and Don Bacon, R-Neb. – are the beneficiaries of the McCarthy fundraising apparatus facing a tough battle for re-election. Representatives Tom Reed, RN.Y .; Brian Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania; Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill .; Nicole Malliotakis, RN.Y .; Christopher Smith, RNJ; Anthony Gonzalez, Ohio; Andrew Garbarino, RN.Y .; and David McKinley, RW.Va., also voted in favor of the measure.
Kinzinger, Katko and Gonzalez also voted to impeach Trump and create a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
In the end, only six liberals resisted the pleas of Pelosi and Biden and opposed the law, enough to torpedo it, but 13 GOP votes gave the Democratic Speaker a comfortable 228 to 206 victory.
The Pro-Trump wing of the conference immediately drew attention to this.
“Kevin McCarthy is not the cause of these problems. He’s a symptom because we have Republicans willing to say, “Oh my gosh, we always lose a few.” Nancy Pelosi is the majority and she has lost less than half of the votes we lost in the minority, ”Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, said during an interview with Newsmax on Monday. “That’s why, to be honest, the morale at the republican conference is very low right now and we need support.”
Since then, Trump has stepped up a proposal to punish 13 deserted Republicans, a rallying cry that erupted among supporters of the former America First President in the House of Representatives over the weekend.
While in power, Trump has repeatedly tried to negotiate an infrastructure deal, but the agenda item has been disliked by many of his senior aides and conservative Republicans. He envisioned traveling the country and attending infrastructure project events, talking about his work as a construction worker, as recounted by former assistants who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. While Infrastructure Week was a joke to many, Trump brought up the topic on several occasions, according to former aides.
But for Trump and many Republicans, their love of infrastructure has turned into disgust now that it has received Biden’s approval.
Some of the NRC’s star recruits are beginning to criticize GOP lawmakers who backed the infrastructure package, even as these candidates are running for seats currently held by Democrats in places where voters are likely to be more supportive of the law.
In an interview with Breitbart News on Saturday, Wisconsin Republican nominee Derrick Van Orden said 13 Republicans “just voted not to lose their jobs, and rightly so.”
“There is absolutely no excuse for that,” Van Orden told the conservative news site.
On Monday morning, Texas GOP nominee Monica De La Cruz also criticized Republicans who backed the Democratic Party bill. “I still can’t believe 13 Republicans voted for this $ 3 trillion unpaid bill, social policy, infrastructure and climate change programs,” De La Cruz tweeted, adding three red flag emoticons.
Hours earlier, McCarthy announced that Van Orden and De La Cruz were part of the first eight GOP candidates to receive Young Shooter status, an effort that McCarthy jointly launched in the 2008 campaign. This subtext means that the GOP leader considers these recruits to be his best, and he serves as an instruction for his most loyal donors to focus their money on these candidates.
Another “young shooter”, Esther Joy King of Illinois, called the law something of the “radical left” supported by Pelosi. “We must fight this wasteful bill,” she tweeted, “with all the strength we have!”
But Republicans who back the bill argue the criticism is short-sighted and the party should focus on what the package can do for their communities while criticizing other parts of Biden’s agenda.
“This is the last opportunity we have to make sure these potholes are filled, these airports are working properly, bridges are safe, and our economy can continue to grow. This is the only chance we have, ”said Young, who co-sponsored an ambitious road traffic bill in 2005, in a recent speech. “To my colleagues who vote against, I would say, think about it. What’s the other alternative? “
Democrats have largely reveled in GOP squabbling after Republicans tried to politically capitalize on divisions among Democrats recently demonstrated when the party resolved its differences over an economic and social spending package.
Biden expressed surprise at the situation on Tuesday and lamented that the bipartisan agreement could spark such anger.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Biden said at a town hall organized by the Democratic National Committee. “It must stop.”
Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post contributed to this report.