House Republicans have been tripping over one another in recent weeks, trying to claim credit for infrastructure investments from a law they tried to kill. In fact, the list keeps growing: NBC News flagged a related example this morning, noting Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas celebrating an ecosystem restoration plan in his district that's backed by funds from a bill he opposed.
But it now appears the phenomenon is not limited to the House. HuffPost reported late yesterday:
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Tuesday became the latest Republican lawmaker to seek credit for the bipartisan infrastructure overhaul he opposed in Congress. After joining U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials for a tour of the Herbert Hoover Dike, which stands to benefit from investments in the law dedicated to making the Everglades more resilient against climate change, Scott said he was "proud" to help secure "an unprecedented $1 billion for Everglades restoration, the largest single amount ever allocated by the federal government."
The report added that the Florida Republican's office released photographs of Scott "shaking hands and posing with local officials," as politicians are wont to do.
What Scott didn't mention is that the unprecedented resources for Everglades restoration came by way of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Joe Biden.
To be sure, the infrastructure package enjoyed at least some bipartisan backing, passing the Senate by an unexpectedly wide margin, 69 to 30.
The trouble, of course, is that Florida's Scott wasn't one of the 69.
As we've discussed more than once, I'm well aware of the standard GOP response to stories like these. It's common for lawmakers, especially when dealing with a massive, multifaceted piece of legislation, to like some elements of a bill while opposing the larger whole (or conversely, members might oppose some provisions while endorsing the larger whole). That's just part of the process.
But for the members being accused of hypocrisy, the larger context matters. Many Republicans condemned the infrastructure bill in no uncertain terms and soon after launched an offensive against the modest number of GOP lawmakers who dared to make it bipartisan by voting for it.
But now that the investments are starting to reach the public at the local level, many of these same Republicans are nevertheless eager to present themselves as champions of the funding that probably wouldn't exist if they'd been successful in derailing the legislation.
Either the new law is reckless socialism, or it's poised to make worthwhile investments that will help a lot of people. Either Republicans are going to make the case against the package, or they're going to celebrate the parts of it that benefit their constituents.
When the GOP tries to do both at the same time — just as the party did with the Recovery Act and the American Rescue Plan — Republicans shouldn't be surprised when they get called out for their brazenness.
For the White House's part, a reporter asked Jen Psaki yesterday for her reaction to Republicans touting infrastructure projects that benefit their constituents, despite having opposed the bill.
"We welcome their support for the president's agenda and an agenda that was supported by some Republicans — not the majority," she responded. "And, hopefully, they'll take the right vote to support their communities and job creation in the future. Maybe it will make them think twice."