Dozens of U.S. House Republicans, including Rep. Tom Emmer, voted against a massive infrastructure bill last year, but that did not stop them from seeking money for local projects that would be funded by the bill.
First reported by CNN, dozens of GOP lawmakers who opposed the infrastructure bill have written Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for help. Emmer wrote a letter in June in support of a grant application from Anoka County for construction on the Minnesota Highway 65 corridor.
“This project is important to Minnesota as it serves as a critical corridor of commerce, not just for Anoka County, but all the counties along the MN65 corridor,” Emmer, R-6th District, wrote.
He also said the grant “strives to serve as a social justice measure.”
“The completion of this project means improved economic opportunities for ethnically underserved communities,” Emmer wrote. “Currently, Highway 65 is very difficult to travel or cross for people walking or riding bikes, which is often a barrier to economic prosperity for so many living in and around the area.”
The very politely written letter ends with one more pitch: “This project will allow endless growth to our region and state,” Emmer wrote before thanking Buttigieg for his time.
However, after Congress approved the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Emmer slammed the legislation: “The House voted on a bill that directs only a fraction of its overall spending towards improving roads and bridges, and lays the groundwork for passage of President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list,” he said.
Biden on Friday mocked Republicans who voted against the infrastructure bill and then sought its funding. Many of them had called the president’s initiative “Socialist,” but in their letters said the legislation’s funding was vital to their districts’ economic health.
“I didn’t know there were so many Socialist Republicans,” Biden said.
The White House estimates that Minnesota will receive about $4.8 billion over five years in federal highway formula funding for highways and bridges. That’s about 30% more than the state would receive if the infrastructure bill had not been approved.
The highway bill also funded separate grant programs for bridge and road programs. That’s the money Emmer and Anoka County sought.
CNN also reported that Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-7th District, also wrote in support of local projects, but a copy of her letter could not be immediately obtained.
The infrastructure bill passed last year was supported by only 13 House Republicans, none from Minnesota. Six Democrats, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-5th, joined Republicans in opposing it. The GOP calls for help from a bill they did not support immediately became a campaign issue on Friday.
The Democratic National Committee issued a blast email release that said “in a stunning new low, dozens of congressional Republicans who publicly opposed President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are now asking for infrastructure money they voted AGAINST.”
As proof of the “hypocrisy,” the DNC said that Emmer, “the man supposedly in charge of electing Republicans to the House — had the nerve to call the bill a ‘socialist wish list’ before requesting grant funding for a highway in his district.”
The head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Emmer is heavily favored to win reelection. But some of the other Republican House members who wrote to Buttigieg asking for help have much more competitive races.