CMR Votes Against Infrastructure Funding
She Operates in a Parallel Universe
Last Friday the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (AKA the INVEST in America Act) and sent it President Biden’s desk. H.R. 3684 passed the House the first time on July 1, 221 to 201 (with only two Republican Yea votes). The U.S. Senate took up the bill, revised it, and passed the revised version on August 10th, with a startling 69 to 30 vote, with 19 Republicans joining 50 Democrats and Independents. The revised bill was returned to the House for final approval.
With 19 Republican Senators voting for the revised bill the media hailed the effort as “bipartisan”. Polling in early July confirmed that broad majorities of Americans were in favor of legislation to support the “hard” infrastructure funding in the bill that finally passed, so one might expect that many more House Republicans would make the final passage a “bipartisan” event on November 5. After all, in the Senate nearly 40% of Republican Senators voted for the revised bill. But no, the final House vote on the revised INVEST in America Act was 228 to 206, with only 11 more Republican votes over the original 2. To say this bill passed the House on a “bipartisan” vote would be a gross misrepresentation.
A whole lot of the INVEST in America Act is directed at rural communities, communities generally thought of as a mainstay of the Republican base. INVEST in America provides funds “$66 billion in passenger and freight rail improvements and $17 billion for ports and waterways, infrastructure fundamentally important to rural communities.” The law includes “$65 billion to expand broadband connectivity and affordability in low-access areas,” a rural internet program reminiscent of the rural electrification program of the 1930s that first brought electricity to rural households left behind by private utility companies. Then there is funding for water infrastructure maintenance, essential for western rural communities facing years long drought.
McMorris Rodgers, one might think, would vote for such a bill and talk it up with her rural base. Instead, here is her statement (the bold is mine):
The Senate infrastructure bill and the massive tax and spending spree are not the will of the American people. The Democrats’ radical agenda to spend a reckless amount of money will raise costs and make it even harder for people to build a better life. It will lead to blackouts, unaffordable electricity bills, tax hikes, jobs destroyed, weak defenses against our adversaries like China and Russia, no hope to cure diseases, long lines of the sick begging the government for lifesaving treatments, and slashed funding for hospitals that are trying to care for our country’s most vulnerable patients. Is that the future we really want? It’s reckless. We should be working to address crises that are threatening our future like the chaos at the border, broken supply chains, surging costs, and record-high overdose deaths.
McMorris Rodgers lives in an alternative universe where money spent on sadly needed infrastructure maintenance and upgrades will “lead to blackouts…jobs destroyed…and weak defenses.” What is her solution to crumbling infrastructure? Privatizing roads and bridges and charging tolls? She’s been talking about rural broadband for years—and accomplishing nothing. Now she casts a Nay vote on a bill that proposes to expand rural broadband? She voted Yea on the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” inflating the deficit with tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy. No worries about inflation there, I suppose, because the wealthy and the corporations simply banked the money instead of spending it back into the economy. Now she votes no on a bill to improve infrastructure for all of us.
McMorris Rodgers’ Nay vote on the INVEST in America Act is one more declaration of Republican obstructionism and anti-government ideology. As long as CMR holds her office eastern Washington will remain poorly represented.
Fortunately, McMorris Rodgers already has a credible challenger in 2022. Natasha Hill is a young, extremely bright, well-spoken, locally-involved lawyer who recently served on the Spokane County Redistricting Commission. Remember that name—and get involved early.
Keep to the high ground,