In a scenario that sparked understandable outrage in conservative corners, 13 Republican House members crossed the aisle to help Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill after weeks of wrangling that placed key elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda in doubt, and the potential fallout from their decision is now the subject of significant debate.
After the six members of the so-called progressive “Squad” in the House signaled their intention to vote against the spending measure, Pelosi found herself in what was surely – for her – the unpleasant position of having to seek Republican help to salvage the bill.
However, she was not disappointed, as a group of GOP lawmakers stepped into the void and threw their support behind the approximately $1 trillion spending package that forms a critical part of Biden’s sweeping policy plans, prompting considerable backlash from some in their party.
Those helping Pelosi get the measure over the finish line once and for all included Don Bacon (NE), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Andrew Garbarino (NY), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Nicole Malliotakis (NY), David McKinley (WV), Tom Reed (NY), Chris Smith (NJ), Fred Upton (MI), Jeff van Drew (NJ), and Alaska’s Don Young.
Criticism of the defectors came quickly from, among others, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who vowed to support primary challenges to any Republican who supported the bill, folks she said “handed over their voting cards to Nancy Pelosi to pass Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America via so-called infrastructure.” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) lamented, “Pelosi did not have the votes in her party to pass this garbage. Time to name names and hold these fake republicans accountable.”
Others, however, have cautioned Republicans to consider that, despite the frustration that inevitably comes with the passage of a Pelosi-championed bill of this nature, the consequences may not be as severe as many initially believed.
For instance, Malliotakis said, according to Axios, that her vote helped neutralize the outsized influence that has been wielded by the progressive Democrats throughout the negotiation process, saying, “I weakened their hand. They have no leverage now. I voted against AOC and the squad tonight.”
Bacon explained his choice to support the bill by stating that while he certainly faced pressure from Republican colleagues to vote against it, he assessed the implications of his choice in his own district, adding that the measure itself is popular with his constituents, including farmers, businesses, and unions.
In an op-ed for Fox News, columnist David Marcus reminded conservatives that many of the lawmakers who voted for the bill may indeed see electoral benefits back home as a result of the spending that will now occur in their districts, and while there may be times when “fighting Democrats at all cost is its own reward,” allowing this issue to spark a “civil war in the GOP” would be an unnecessarily risky gambit.