Last week, the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed through the House by 228-206 with 13 Republican votes. Since then, those 13 GOP representatives have been subject to threatening phone calls, including one who says he received a death threat.
“This madness has to stop,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who said his offices received dozens of threatening phone calls after his yes vote. The fervent correspondences included one obscenity-ridden rant wherein the caller repeatedly called Upton a “traitor” and said he hoped Upton, his family, and his aides would die. The 18-term moderate closed his two offices for a day to increase their security.
The 13 supports also faced intense rebuking from within their own party. According to the Associated Press, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) wrote in a now-deleted tweet: “Time to name names and hold these fake republicans accountable.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) called them “traitors.”
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said that the 10 of the 13 defectors who are the senior Republicans on committees should be removed from their posts. “I respect their right to vote their districts and their conscience. But that doesn’t mean that they should get the privilege of leading [House Republicans],” Biggs said.
The bipartisan measure aims to create jobs and improve things like the country’s roads, water systems, and broadband coverage. Additionally, it will send funds into every state. President Joe Biden plans to sign it on Monday.
Democrats condemn Republican opposition to the bill on policy and political grounds.
“It’s a sad statement of how the other party has lost its way,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). “If you want our country to fail so you can say things are bad and win power for yourself, you act like the House Republicans are.”
Though the two parties once collaborated on things that have a mutual and national benefit, like infrastructure projects, the dynamic is now far more complicated.
“When it comes to policy these days, we’re basically divided into two tribes. And you stick with your tribe, and you don’t try to help the other tribe,” GOP strategist Glen Bolger said.
However, some within the GOP are pushing back against cries for retaliation against the 13 pro-infrastructure members. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who opposed the bill, said the 13 Republicans are “among some of our very best members” and voted yes “because it was the right thing for their districts.”
Some of the 13 members are taking the criticism in stride. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) said he voted yes because his state would receive more than $20 billion in funds “we desperately need.” Van Drew dismissed the notion that the measure would “catapult the president” politically.
“If Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to be mean to me, that’s fine,” Van Drew said. “I love America very much. I would never ever do anything to hurt this country.”