Tue, August 16, 2022


Republicans divided over whether to join Biden at White House signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill they support

WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans who helped pass President Joe Bidens infrastructure bill are split on whether to join him Monday for the White House signing ceremony and witness the $1.2 trillion package become law.

On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration invited a "broad group" of Republicans to the ceremony, including members of Congress, governors, mayors and other individuals "who played a role in helping move the infrastructure bill forward."

"The president looks forward to thanking them for their work, for working together to get this done for the American people," Psaki said.

Tensions over the bill's passage have grown among Republicans, raising questions within the party of whether any agreement with Biden and his agenda should be tolerated. Former president Donald Trump has said Republicans who voted for the measure - 19 senators and 13 House members - should be "ashamed of themselves" for "helping the Democrats."

"I love all the House Republicans. Well, actually I don't love all of you. I don't love the 13 that voted for Biden's infrastructure plan," Trump said during an event hosted by the House Republican campaign arm on Monday.

Other Republican lawmakers - most notably Trump loyalists Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina - have led criticism and attacks against their colleagues who backed the bill, calling them "traitors" and encouraging people to contact their offices.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. - a moderate who voted for the infrastructure package - told CNN on Monday that a caller left a message with his office filled with expletives and death threats. "I hope you die," the caller said, adding that he hoped everybody in Upton's family died as well.

On the Senate side, Republicans have avoided lashing out against their colleagues who voted in favor of the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who voted for it and drew Trump's wrath, has even tried to give more credit to his Senate caucus for helping pass the package.

McConnell, however, will not be attending the signing ceremony Monday. He told a Kentucky radio station that he has "other things I've got to do" that day.

"This bill was basically written in the Senate by a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats - all the House did last week was simply take up the Senate bill and pass it," McConnell said. "This bill was crafted in the Senate, 19 Republicans voted for it, I was one of them, I think it was good for the country and I'm glad it passed."

Of the other 18 Republican senators who backed the bill, only Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said they plan on attending the White House's signing ceremony. Murkowski, who announced her re-election bid Friday, has defended the bill to critics from her own party, saying it is "not about a win for Biden, or a win for the Democrats."

"This is about meeting our nation's needs," Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News. "And for those who, in my view, are going to be so petty that they would deny good, solid policy because they don't want the person holding the keys to the White House today to be able to say they got that under their watch, what a shame on us that we're not willing to put the priorities of the country first over the politics of this."

Other Republican senators have begun promoting the bill to their constituents. Sen. Kevin Cramer, who voted in its favor, highlighted the aspects of the package that will benefit his home state of North Dakota during a news conference Wednesday.

"What I look for is opportunities where there are winners on all sides. And that's what we have in this bill," he said. "The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the right thing to do for North Dakota and our country."

Cramer, however, does not plan on attending the signing ceremony on Monday. Neither does Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., whose office said he would be out of town. The Senate is in session Monday afternoon, with a vote scheduled in the evening.

Spokespeople for the other Republicans who voted for the bill declined to say Friday whether the senators would attend.

On the House side, only Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., has said he plans on attending the event. Reed is retiring at the end of his term after being accused of sexual misconduct by a former lobbyist. Reed apologized and said he would take "full responsibility" for his actions.

Spokesman for the other House Republicans did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

During a Cabinet meeting, Biden said he wants to hold the event outside, "God willing," with the weather permitting. The forecast for Monday is sunny with a high of 48.

Published : November 13, 2021

By : The Washington Post