The 13 House Republicans who supported the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill last week are defending their vote despite coming under heavy fire from fellow GOPers — including former President Donald Trump.
Multiple sources tell The Post that Trump’s bashing of the lawmakers in remarks at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner Monday night, as well as rabble-rousing by far-right House members like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), has led to an escalation in threats, calls for primary challengers, and a push to remove the 13 from their committee assignments.
Sources say Trump referred to the bill backers as “RINOs” and “disloyal” in his remarks. One source told The Post that Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and parts of South Brooklyn and supported the legislation, was left “visibly shaken” by the former president’s words.
The day after the vote, Greene tweeted an image of the vote’s roll call that included the names of the Republicans who backed the measure.
“Those 13 Republican traitors who voted to pass Biden’s Socialist Infrastructure bill agree with Globalist Joe [Biden] that America must depend on China to drive [electric vehicles],” she wrote. “The unlucky 13 are China-First and America-Last. 13 American job & energy killers.”
Freshman Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), who represents part of Long Island, told The Post that “misinformation” spread by his House colleagues as well as conservative pundits has put the members’ safety at risk.
“I’ve had the police at my house, and they’re more concerned about these [threats] that have been coming in than the ones I’ve gotten in the past,” Garbarino said Wednesday. “There are members of Congress that are fundraising off of their misinformation and attacking us, and it’s causing us to get death threats on the other side.”
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) also received death threats over his vote. On Monday, the lawmaker shared a voicemail with CNN in which an unidentified person called Upton a “piece of s— traitor” and stated, “I hope you f—ing die. Hope your f—ing family dies. Hope everybody in your f—ing staff dies.”
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told The Post that his office has received a surge of calls from people confusing the infrastructure bill with the $1.75 trillion social spending bill, which Democrats are hoping to pass on their own and has not yet been voted on.
“Ninety percent don’t have their facts right,” Bacon said. “They’re using details from BBB [the social spending bill] and saying it’s the BIF [infrastructure].”
One GOP member who voted for the infrastructure bill told The Post that their staff has been forwarding the hostile calls they get to Greene’s office. Others say that most of the calls have come from outside their districts and even outside their state.
“For years, maybe decades, Republicans and Democrats, local and national leaders, have really not kept up with pace with infrastructure. And that is one of the key things that taxpayers actually pay for,” Malliotakis told CNN Monday. “When they pay their taxes they want basic things, and roads and bridges and tunnels and ports, ensuring that, you know, they have clean water, ensuring that they have an adequate sewer system — these are the things that people expect when they pay taxes.”
Greene, along with fellow firebrands Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) have threatened to recruit primary challengers to those who supported the infrastructure bill and have no plans to retire after next year’s midterm elections. (Currently, three of the 13 — Tom Reed of New York, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — will leave Congress after the 2022 vote.)
Gaetz is also leading efforts to oust those who voted for the measure from their committee assignments. Among those Gaetz has targeted is Rep. John Katko (R-NY), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee.
“Ronald Reagan cut deals all the time with Democrats in the House to get things done for the good of the country,” Katko told Spectrum 1 News Tuesday. “That’s what we’re supposed to do. This isn’t a zero-sum game.”
In the days leading up to the Nov. 5 vote, House GOP leadership voiced strong opposition to members breaking ranks and supporting the measure.
Multiple lawmakers have told The Post that booting the defectors from their positions would not happen without political repercussions for Republican leadership. However, a senior House GOP staffer did not rule out the possibility of disciplinary action.
“The next step forward for the conference is to meet together at the conference meeting next week,” the aide said.
Former Congressman Peter King defended the bill in a radio interview Wednesday as a positive for blue-collar New Yorkers and called on Republicans to stop creating a “circular firing squad” as they look to take back the House and Senate majority.
“It’s exactly what AOC does, it’s what the ‘Squad’ does,” King told WABC-AM’s “Bernie and Sid in the Morning. “If they don’t get 100 percent support and loyalty they turn against their own. And you’re elected to support your district and to support your state.”
The bipartisan bill includes $550 billion in new spending, with $110 billion set to be allocated toward roads, bridges and other projects; $65 billion toward broadband, $66 billion to be spent on passenger and freight rail, $55 billion for water infrastructure, $39.2 billion for public transit, $47.2 billion for resiliency purposes, $7.5 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure and $21 billion to address pollution.
Multiple lawmakers and senior GOP staffers told The Post they believe the infrastructure bill’s passage could significantly hinder Democrats’ chances of pushing through the social spending measure. They argue that approval of the smaller bill could satisfy House moderates who are concerned about the larger bill’s impact on inflation and the federal deficit.
House Democratic leaders hope to bring the larger bill to the floor as soon as next week.