Nov 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP spares infrastructure defectors

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The 13 House Republicans who voted for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill aren't expected to face formal punishment from their party's leadership despite anger from some colleagues, four GOP aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was ousted from her leadership position after voting to impeach former President Trump. She now serves as vice chair of the Jan. 6 Select Committee. Aides said the bulk of House Republican ire is more concentrated on her and others who voted to impeach Trump.

  • The right-wing House Freedom Caucus has sponsored a resolution to expel Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the other Republican on the Jan. 6 panel, from the GOP conference.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has avoided holding a vote on it.

Driving the news: Several Trump allies in the House, as well as the former president himself, have openly bashed the 13 Republicans.

  • Their votes proved vital after six progressive House Democrats voted against the infrastructure bill.
  • “No ‘thank-you’ goes to those in the House and Senate who voted for the Democrats’ non-infrastructure bill, also known as the Democrat presidential reelection bill," Trump said Monday during a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner in Tampa, Florida. "You gave Biden a victory as his poll numbers were falling off a cliff.”

Right-wing Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has called on McCarthy to strip them of their committee assignments.

  • “If we will tolerate this dissension from these 13, they’ll do it again,” he said on Steve Bannon's podcast.
  • Multiple rank-and-file members share that view and hope to launch an effort to oust them from their respective committees, Punchbowl News first reported.
  • McCarthy's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Between the lines: That position is confined to a small group, according to the aides.

  • Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), one of the targeted 13, hopes to be in attendance when President Biden signs the bill into law on Monday, Young spokesperson Zack Brown told Axios.
  • Several others in the targeted group are unsure whether they'll go, if invited.
  • Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) has ruled it out, his spokesperson told Axios.

What they're saying: Brown, the Young spokesperson, said: "Sure, a few vocal members have used social media to draw attention to the 13 Republican 'yes' votes, but their tweets and cable news attention doesn't represent a real effort to retaliate."

  • "A handful of rabble-rousers are frustrated, but this isn't serious, nor is leadership involved," Brown added.
  • Another Republican leadership aide said it's "probably a few disgruntled members," calling the effort "a bunch of nothing."
  • A third aide says the House Republican leadership has "indicated that it is not supportive of removing infrastructure supporters from committee assignments."
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