President Joe Biden has signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which means it’s time for Republicans who opposed the law to start coming out and claiming credit for funding it provides. Nineteen Senate Republicans and 13 House Republicans voted for the law. They can brag about its effects. The rest of them? Can keep their mouths shut.
First up in the shut-your-mouth crew: Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama.
On Nov. 6 in a statement “on passage of Democrat infrastructure bill,” Palmer said: “Our economy is struggling, and our national debt already presents a serious national security threat, but the Democrats have shown they are willing to recklessly push through a bill that costs over a trillion dollars with only about 10 percent going to roads and bridges. I fully support funding for infrastructure that is focused on national priorities rather than wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on a Green New Deal wish list and programs under the guise of human infrastructure that simply expand government control of our lives.”
As if roads and bridges are the only infrastructure.
He concluded: “At least the bill includes legislation which I introduced with Rep. David Trone (D-MD) that includes funding for the Birmingham Northern Beltline.”
Nine days later, on Nov. 15, Palmer followed up on that point, touting the benefits of funding the Northern Beltline, a six-lane highway to connect some of the interstate highways that go through Birmingham. That funding “has consistently been one of my top priorities,” said Palmer, who voted against the bill that included that funding. Nine days after railing against the passage of things he didn’t consider “national priorities,” he was all about one 52-mile stretch of road around one city.
“The Appalachian Regional Commission has noted the completion will have an annual economic impact exceeding $2 billion in 10 years and has the potential to create 14,000 jobs,” Palmer continued, talking about economic impact and jobs he voted against.
“This is the opportunity we have been working for as a region and a state,” he said, still having voted against the funding he was raving about.
A spokeswoman defended Palmer against completely accurate charges of hypocrisy by saying he would have voted for it as a stand-alone bill, but wasteful spending blah blah blah. Yeah. Palmer would have voted for his priority if he could have voted for just that—but how many other people would have voted for Palmer’s priority if he wasn’t going to vote for theirs? Just think, instead of getting a majority of members of Congress to vote to pass an infrastructure bill that funds a bunch of different things, Congress could have held votes on a couple hundred stand-alone bills, each of which would have gotten support from the handful of lawmakers whose districts would benefit. Nothing would have passed, but it would have been so pure! Truly the Republican way: Get nothing done, but be able to say that at least you didn’t do anything about climate change.
If you want a look into the future on Republicans claiming credit for programs in the infrastructure bill as its funding goes out, just consider a statement from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on the same day that Palmer was celebrating the Northern Beltline funding he voted against. Ducey announced $100 million in high-speed broadband investments—with that funding coming from the American Rescue Plan. While Ducey is a governor rather than a member of Congress, and therefore didn’t have a vote on that law, every single Republican in Congress opposed it. It’s pretty safe to say that Doug Ducey would have opposed it, too. But that isn’t stopping him from touting its major investment in rural broadband.
Ducey joins a long list of Republicans who’ve touted the benefits of the American Rescue Plan, which got zero Republican votes. Palmer is at the head of what will no doubt become a long list of Republicans who voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and went on to cheer for money it brought to their districts. Republicans gonna Republican.