State Watch

Republican governors mostly silent on infrastructure bill

Democratic governors hailed passage of a bipartisan infrastructure package that will send billions of dollars to state coffers to launch new projects and rebuild crumbling roads and bridges.

But only a handful of their Republican colleagues heralded the bill, which won votes from 19 Republican senators and 13 Republicans in the House.  

“This bipartisan bill will put America’s infrastructure on the right track to grow jobs and make our economy competitive for the twenty-first century without raising taxes or adding to the debt,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement. “After decades of gridlock, I’m proud to have helped push the federal government to finally act.”

Hogan, who spent a year as chairman of the bipartisan National Governors Association (NGA) during former President Trump’s term in office, hosted a bipartisan group of governors and members of Congress to lay out priorities. 

The current chair of the NGA, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), praised Congress for passing the bill.

“Governors commend Congress for setting aside partisan differences to pass a bill that works for the American people. States stand ready to immediately put these funds to good use to fix and improve our nation’s infrastructure,” Hutchinson said. 

Hutchinson, who cannot run for reelection because of term limits, was the only governor of a reliably red state to comment on the bill. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) was the only other Republican governor to offer praise.

“This bill, with support from both sides of the aisle, is a very important step forward for our country and will significantly benefit our state,” Scott said. “We know the majority of Americans support infrastructure investments and seeing bipartisan work – even though it was difficult – to get this done shows we can still unite around common goals.”

In a series of supportive statements, Democratic governors touted the billions earmarked for their states. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said his state expects to see more than $45 billion in dollars earmarked for highways, bridges, public transportation, water and wildfire prevention projects. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) praised the “quality, good-paying union jobs” he said the bill would create.

The disparity between Democratic and Republican governors is an extension of the partisanship that infects Capitol Hill, where even infrastructure — once virtually guaranteed to win bipartisan support — has become an area of contention. The small number of Republicans who voted for the package, mostly members who represent urban areas and old guard members like Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), came under criticism from fellow conservatives who said they had helped advance President Biden’s agenda. 

Hogan, who is said to be considering a run for president, criticized the convoluted path that congressional Democrats took in approving the measure, long held by progressives as a bargaining chip to ensure votes on Biden’s domestic policy agenda in a reconciliation package. 

“I mean, [Biden] nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It should’ve been an overwhelming win back in August, and I think he should not have let it get sidetracked by the progressives in the House,” Hogan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “Joe Biden won a very narrow election by winning swing voters, and they’re not where the progressive caucus is, I can assure you, and the vast majority of Americans are not for this second bill.”

Tags Asa Hutchinson Don Young Donald Trump Gavin Newsom Joe Biden Tom Wolf

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