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32 Republicans voted for Biden’s infrastructure bill. Here’s why

“This bipartisan package contains significant investments for roads, bridges, rails, seaports, airports, and inland waterways — core infrastructure most Americans agree are in need of improvement.”

Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Mitt Romney walk together on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVa., second from left, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, walk together on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.
Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

The bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed last week had support from 32 Republicans. And although some within the GOP are upset over the way these Republicans voted, they say the bill will help their constituents.

The five-year, $1 trillion bill had support from 13 mostly centrist Republicans in the House and 19 in the Senate who also voted yes back in August.

Criticism came from former President Donald Trump, who said in a statement, “All Republicans who voted for Democrat longevity should be ashamed of themselves.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted that Republicans who voted yes on the legislation “handed over their voting cards to Nancy Pelosi to pass Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America.”

Many of the Republicans responded preemptively to attacks about their votes by emphasizing in statements that the infrastructure bill was separate from a second domestic and climate spending bill that Democrats hoped to pass in tandem.

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said in a statement the infrastructure bill would make the U.S. stronger and more competitive and added, “Make no mistake. This is not the Bernie Sanders’ Socialist Budget Busting Bill, which would’ve cost American taxpayers their hard-earned money.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., said she hoped the infrastructure bill’s passage would weaken Democrats’ ability to pass the second, larger bill.

“It is my hope that now that the bipartisan infrastructure bill has passed, we have weakened the socialist’s negotiating hand and perhaps even killed this radical socialist spending spree once and for all,” she said in a statement.

The infrastructure bill is supported by 62% of U.S. adults, according to a Quinnipiac poll released last week, including 38% of Republicans. Support for the second, larger bill, which includes social programs like child care, education and family tax credits, is at 57%, with 28% Republican support, underscoring why the Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill want to distinguish two bills that Democrats tried to link.

Republicans who voted yes on infrastructure said they did so to fund projects like roads, bridges, water and waste systems, broadband internet and airports.

“For years, I’ve said we need to invest in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and finally, we’ve taken the steps necessary to make it happen,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said in a statement. “This bipartisan package contains significant investments for roads, bridges, rails, seaports, airports, and inland waterways — core infrastructure most Americans agree are in need of improvement.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who helped negotiate the legislation, said in a statement he urged President Joe Biden to “keep his promise to sign this legislation without delay, so we can modernize our nation’s physical infrastructure, address supply chain issues, and demonstrate that, even in polarized times, Congress can still come together on behalf of the American people.”

The vote split pro-impeachment Republicans, like Kinzinger who voted yes while his only Republican colleague on the Jan. 6 select committee, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., voted no. The vote also put the furthest left Democrats and furthest right Republicans on the same side, with lawmakers as far removed from each other as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Greene both voting no.

The bill’s passage represents a bipartisan win for Biden, whose approval has fallen since he took office. Biden called the legislation “a once-in-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st century” during remarks Friday.

The bill includes spending $110 billion for road and bridge repair, $65 billion to expand broadband internet and $39 billion for public transit, and it’s paid for by unspent COVID-19 relief and unemployment insurance aid.