Ohio, Kentucky congressmen vote against Brent Spence Bridge fix
If you were a congressman from Southwestern Ohio or Northern Kentucky, it may seem obvious to vote for the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure investment and jobs law.
After all, it could solve a decades-old dilemma – and a clear and current danger – posed by the worn, overused, and obsolete Brent Spence Bridge that connects Ohio and Kentucky, on one of the most North-South freeways. important to the nation.
It is estimated that 80 to 90% of the roughly $ 2 billion it would cost to build a brand new complementary bridge could come from this bill; and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said on Monday that federal funding would eliminate the need for tolls to pay for a new bridge, a long-standing bone of contention.
It passed the Senate in August and the House last week with bipartisan support. Ohio Junior Sen. Republican Rob Portman helped negotiate the deal that allowed Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration to pass the infrastructure bill.
Of course, he had the backing of Senior Ohio Senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, who worked with Portman to develop the bridge repair and replacement portion of the infrastructure bill.
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senior Senator from Kentucky, was in Covington, praising the passage of the bill.
“This will be the first time I’ve been here in a quarter of a century when I thought there might be a way forward on the Brent Spence Bridge,” McConnell said in Covington.
Even President Biden, who scored a big legislative victory with the passage of the infrastructure bill, specifically singled out the Brent Spence Bridge as a project that could become a reality with federal dollars.
At a town hall in Cincinnati in July, Biden vowed that his administration would “fix that damn bridge” if the infrastructure bill passes.
And it happened. With bipartite support.
So that sounds like a “yes” vote for the rest of the tri-state congressmen, all Republicans, who have a stake in what’s going on with the Brent Spence Bridge, yes?
They all voted against.
Senator Rand Paul and Representative Thomas Massie from the Kentucky side of the river; on the Ohio side, all Republican congressmen from southwestern Ohio voted no – Steve Chabot from the first congressional district; Brad Wenstrup of the Second District; and Eighth District MP Warren Davidson of Troy, whose district extends to Butler County.
It seems counterintuitive.
But they seemed to be following the lead of former President Donald Trump, who spoke loudly against the infrastructure bill. Infrastructure was a topic he talked about a lot when he was president (most notably at an event on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati in 2017), never doing anything about it.
“There was a time when the people who lived on the rivers were pro-bridge, no matter the time or the mood or who was in charge,” said David Niven, associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati .
“Being pro-bridge was not partisan or ideological, it was just a reflection of at least a rudimentary understanding that people need to move on to the other side,” Niven said. “That time, however, is over.”
Most of those Republicans said they opposed the infrastructure bill because they believed it was linked to another massive Biden administration plan – the Build Back Better bill, which would include almost $ 2 trillion for social programs, climate programs and a host of other things.
Even Portman and McConnell, who voted for the infrastructure bill, have said they oppose Build Back Better.
Build Back Better is a separate bill; and it is likely that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will try to put it to a vote in the House later this month.
How did Republican members of Congress explain their votes on infrastructure? Here is a sample:
- Chabot, in a written statement we requested, also linked the infrastructure bill to Rebuild Better. “There is no doubt that we need to invest significantly in repairing and rebuilding our country’s crumbling infrastructure. Sadly, Washington Democrats have inextricably linked much-needed infrastructure spending to billions and billions of dollars in unnecessary and unnecessary programs that will only increase inflation, increasing costs for American families across the board. from energy to food to Christmas gifts.
- Wenstrup’s written response to our request for a statement on its vote was roughly the same: “I support the physical infrastructure and regulatory reform necessary to complete such projects on time and cost effectively. Sadly, legislation passed in the middle of the night last Friday has failed to deliver the necessary reforms, is not fully paid for, and is directly linked to an even larger social spending bill of $ 1 trillion. I believe we can do better for the taxpayer, and we should do it. “
- Massie on Sunday retweeted a message that read, “The same GOP that couldn’t pass a bill to fund Trump’s border wall just helped push through Biden’s trillion-dollar infrastructure bill.”
You want the truth?
They did little or nothing against illegal immigration because Paul Ryan was the Speaker of the House.
– Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) November 7, 2021
- Paul, when he voted against the infrastructure bill in August, released a statement saying the bill “isn’t just about roads, bridges and clean water, it’s the first step. of the ‘Green New Deal … The plan also adds at least $ 250 billion in new debt. Instead of lowering gasoline prices, it will push them even higher with the price of food and other things. Inflation-soaring necessities This is not the plan Kentucky families need.
The votes of these Republican members of Congress from Ohio and Kentucky directly oppose them to a fairly influential organization, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
The House is by no means an organization full of flamboyant, spendthrift liberals, but they know a lot when they see it.
The day after the late-night vote by the House that made the infrastructure bill a reality, the House released a statement praising the vote and thanking Ohio Senators Portman and Brown for the role that ‘they played in its realization.
“This legislation will provide essential investments for the infrastructure needs that are critical to connecting our region,” said Jill P. Meyer, President and CEO of the House. “The funding provided will make the repair and replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge a reality more than ever. It is also the largest federal investment in public transit while funding airports, waterways, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, and charging stations for electric vehicles. , and broadband and power infrastructure. “
No mention of members of the Ohio and Kentucky delegations who were not helping.
And those members of Congress, for the most part, better blame Build Back for their no votes on the infrastructure bill.
How is it then that Republicans like Portman and McConnell seem to be able to separate the two in their minds? These two senators made it clear that they did not need to build back better, but that they were very supportive of the infrastructure bill.
It’s a puzzle.
“Now we have members of Congress not only voting against a bill, but totally disengaged from the process while representing a region where infrastructure collapse is not a theoretical potential future problem, but as real as the issue. daily to find out if the interstate highway bridge is even open today, “Niven said.
“We shouldn’t let the fact that it’s predictable diminish the fact that it’s also amazing,” Niven said. “Seeing everything as a partisan battle is not a sign of courage but a commitment to dysfunction.”
The good news, however, is that the opportunity to finally do something about “that damn bridge” will unfold without them.