Former President Donald Trump made time in a 90-minute speech to sharply rebuke the 13 House Republicans who backed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed late Friday, while progressive Democrats who voted against the bill also faced criticism, including from their constituents, notably in New York City.
“New York needs this money,” said Sidibe Ibrahima, a business owner and Democrat from Harlem. “The fact that [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] had her own community impacted by the floods, how are you going to go against an infrastructure bill? She should think about the people who voted for her.”
Much of New York City — including Ocasio-Cortez’s district in Queens and the Bronx — found itself underwater during severe weather events this year. At least 18 New Yorkers died in September as a result of flash floods caused by Hurricane Ida.
Cash to upgrade the city’s sewers and drainage systems to prevent similar catastrophes is included in the infrastructure bill.
Michael Goodman, a retired college professor living in Midtown Manhattan, groused, “I don’t know why she voted against it. For decades New York has given more money than they’ve gotten back. Politics is the art of compromise. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, whose district stretches northward from the Bronx into suburban Westchester County, and Ocasio-Cortez were among six Democrats who said no to the bill. The others were Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri.
The progressive New Yorkers took heat on social media for their votes. “Either they’re chaos agents and seriously politically inept. I don’t see any other alternatives,” said one Twitter user, addressing Bowman. “Disappointed in my Congressman, whose track record to date I’ve been very proud of. America needed this bill. To vote no is to play more political football with the lives of the American people at large,” said another.
“I think [Ocasio-Cortez] did her district a disservice,” Nicole Malliotakis, a first-term Republican who represents Staten Island and a section of Brooklyn in the House, told the New York Post. “New York City benefits more than any other part of the country. It’s all hard infrastructure and all things that we desperately need.”
Malliotakis, for her part, had been in the audience Monday when Trump shredded the Republicans who helped deliver the noteworthy bipartisan legislative victory to Democratic President Joe Biden. She was said to have appeared visibly shaken as Trump railed against her and other Republican House members during the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner.
The congresswoman and a dozen other Republicans pushed the infrastructure bill to approval Friday in a 228-206 vote after some Democratic Party infighting that threatened to sink the plan. The bill, which passed the Senate three months earlier, had six Democrats voting no — meaning Republicans would’ve killed the measure if the caucus had voted no in unison and if Speaker Nancy Pelosi hadn’t in turn squeezed the progressives to produce a winning margin with Democrats only.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had supported the bill in August and has since defended it. The pro-business and traditionally Republican-leaning Chamber of Commerce has also backed the bill.
Republicans in the House have largely sided with Trump in criticizing members of the caucus who voted for the bill, with calls to shake up oust them from leadership posts. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is calling for the ouster of Rep. John Katko of New York from the House Homeland Security Committee for his yes vote on the bill.
That would likely lead to political repercussions from moderates as Katko remains a popular member.
Key Words (November 2016): Bannon: With negative interest rates around world, ‘rebuild everything’
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted the names and contact information of each of the 13 Republicans who voted yes.
At the NRCC dinner, Trump appeared friendly with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who voted no, the sources said. While they appeared cordial at the, another GOP lawmaker confirmed to the New York Post that Trump has been griping about McCarthy’s leadership.
Joining Malliotakis and Katko in support of the bill were fellow members of the New York Republican delegation Tom Reed and Andrew Garbarino, as well as Reps. Don Bacon, Brian Fitzpatrick, Adam Kinzinger, David McKinley, Don Young, Fred Upton, Jeff Van Drew and Chris Smith.
Jon Levine and Khristina Narizhnaya, along with MarketWatch, contributed.