Americans tend to like investments that improve their local economies, so members of Congress tend to put a lot of effort into directing as many federal funds as possible to their states and districts. The trouble comes when Republicans celebrate — and too often, take credit for — investments they voted against.
The usual response from GOP lawmakers caught up in hypocrisy controversies is simple: They argue that they might’ve opposed the legislation, but if the federal government is going to make the investments anyway, these members figure they might as well make the case for directing some of those funds to their own constituents.
This is a flawed defense, but it’s at least coherent. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, on the other hand, faced related questions, and as The New Republic noted, the Florida Republican struggled in unusually cringeworthy ways.
Florida Representative Maria Salazar said she doesn’t remember voting against two key pieces of legislation—even though she’s regularly claimed credit for their successes in her congressional district. In an interview on CBS News Miami, Salazar aggressively skirted direct questions about her voting record on the CHIPS and Science Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, at one point telling the host that she needed to speak to her staff to remind her of her voting record in Washington, D.C.
Jim DeFede, an investigative reporter at the CBS affiliate in Miami, noted a recent event in the area at which Salazar presented a check for $650,000 to help small businesses at Florida International University.
“You voted against the bill that gave the money that you then signed a check for and handed and had a photo op,” DeFede explained to the congresswoman.
Salazar claimed not to remember how she voted on the legislation.
A HuffPost report added that DeFede “pointed out that Salazar voted against the CHIPS and Science Act, but has celebrated the fact that the South Florida Climate Resilience Tech Hub is being launched in Miami. That hub was authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act. He also noted that Salazar voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, but has touted all the money that law provided to Miami International Airport.”
Again, the Florida Republican, in her fourth year on Capitol Hill, could’ve simply said, “While I opposed these bills, I nevertheless worked to direct these funds to worthwhile local projects.” That wouldn’t necessarily have been persuasive, but it’s at least what congressional hypocrites usually say.
But during her on-air appearance, Salazar instead suggested that she simply didn’t know what she’d supported and what she’d opposed.
“I really cannot, I mean, right now, and I’m not trying to be a politician, there’s so many bills that I’ve introduced that I know that many of them...” she said, before DeFede interrupted to remind his guest that they weren’t talking about bills she’s introduced.
Rather, the subject at hand was bills she’d opposed, which made investments Salazar now wants credit for.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a fellow Florida Republican, took note of his colleague’s embarrassing display and wrote via social media, “So many lawmakers in both parties are husks of humans who merely hand their vote card to the leadership. Then, stuff like this happens.”