It is notable that President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan would not have passed the House without the support of 13 Republican members.
It is also notable that not one of them is from North Carolina.
North Carolina’s Republican senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, joined 17 other Republicans in backing the bill in the Senate. But their eight House GOP counterparts said a collective “no” in the late Friday vote that sent the bill to President Biden. They opposed an infrastructure package that will bring nearly $9 billion to North Carolina over the next five years. North Carolina’s five House Democrats voted in favor of the bill.
This familiar partisan split in the state’s U.S. House delegation should remind North Carolina voters what is at stake as Republican state lawmakers have passed new congressional redistricting maps that could give Republicans an 11-3 advantage. Gerrymandering has given ideologues and blind followers of former President Trump a lopsided advantage in the state’s U.S. House delegation to the disadvantage of North Carolina.
Reps. Ted Bud, Dan Bishop, Virginia Foxx, David Rouzer, Patrick McHenry, Madison Cawthorn, Greg Murphy and Richard Hudson opposed spending that will repair the state’s roads and bridges, expand broadband, improve mass transit, take lead out of drinking water and make the state more resilient to flooding related to climate change.
And why did these N.C. honorables object? Well, we know why – the spending will boost the agenda of a Democratic president. But pure partisanship can’t be an official explanation, so they once more raised flimsy or false objections.
Bishop said in a statement: “Democrats’ $1.2 Trillion ‘infrastructure’ package has very little to do with any actual infrastructure, as only one-tenth of the total is for roads and bridges, while the rest helps pave the way for the Green New Deal agenda that will wreak havoc on our already crippled economy.”
Crippled economy? The U.S. economy added 531,000 jobs last month, wages are rising, unemployment is down to 4.6 percent and the stock markets are hitting new highs. Yes, the infrastructure package will make the energy grid and transit less polluting, but it’s not nearly as extensive as the Green New Deal backed by House progressives.
McHenry said in a statement: “Instead of addressing the nation’s real infrastructure needs, this bill wastes billions of dollars funding modes of transportation that most Americans aren’t using. To make matters worse, a quarter of the total price tag of this bill is unpaid for, which means more debt that American taxpayers can’t afford.”
Wasted dollars? The bill will improve rail service – including commuter rail through North Carolina – reduce pollution from buses and expand recharging centers for electric vehicles as auto manufacturers increasingly switch to making more of them.
Meanwhile, $550 billion of the package represents new spending, while the rest had already been approved. The new spending will add $256 billion in projected deficits over the next 10 years. The Trump tax cuts McHenry voted for are expected to add between $700 billion to $1.1 trillion to the deficit over ten years.
Then there is Budd, the Trump-endorsed GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022. He turned to Greek lore to explain his objection. He said, “Bottom line: We need real, hard infrastructure, not this liberal Trojan horse for a socialist agenda.”
It’s not clear where socialism lurks in a plan that will give North Carolina $7.2 billion for highway programs, $457 million for bridge repair, $911 million to improve public transit and $100 million to provide broadband access to 424,000 North Carolinians who lack internet access.
North Carolina’s Republicans in the House are not representing the best interests of the state. They are representing reflexive partisanship and relentless obstructionism. In 2022, North Carolina voters should remember who tried to derail an infrastructure plan that will bring the state so much to improve its quality of life and commerce now and for future generations.