By all appearances, Donald Trump genuinely seemed to believe he could derail the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the Senate. Indeed, by most measures, the former president was the only meaningful political force in the country actively lobbying against it.
The more it appeared the legislation was likely to pass, the more Trump hysterically attacked the proposal and threatened Republican senators tempted to support it. The former president never got around to saying what it was he didn't like about the bill -- he's not exactly a policy-oriented kind of guy -- but Trump believed he could snap his fingers, make his position known, and GOP lawmakers would dutifully follow his demands.
That didn't work. As the measure reached the floor yesterday, 19 Senate Republicans -- representing more than a third of the GOP conference -- voted for the legislation. As an NBC News report added, "The 'yes' votes amounted to one of the more significant rebukes of Trump, who maintains a strong grip on the party's base and sought unsuccessfully to pass an infrastructure deal of his own when he was in office."
But as striking as it was to see so many Republicans simply ignore Trump as he stomped his feet, the former president's orders may not have been entirely irrelevant. Politico highlighted a Senate trio of particular interest.
Three Republicans in the original group of 21 senators who endorsed the bipartisan physical infrastructure framework will oppose the legislation enacting it. In recent days, GOP Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas, Todd Young of Indiana and Mike Rounds of South Dakota announced they would not support the final infrastructure bill, citing concerns about the deficit and some of its provisions. Moran and Young are up for reelection in 2022 and are both former chairs of the Senate GOP campaign arm.
It's worth noting for context that Rounds missed yesterday's vote, citing a family matter, but he nevertheless issued a written statement announcing his opposition to the bill.
A separate Politico report added that it was the former president who "scared" these three senators "into the 'no' column."
At face value, their opposition may not have seemed especially notable. Rounds, Young, and Moran each represent reliably "red" states, so it was hardly a shock to see the conservative senators oppose the measure, along with most of their Republican colleagues.
But the trio stood out because Rounds, Young, and Moran, unlike the other GOP senators who voted against the bill, helped negotiate the deal they ended up rejecting.
It was just two months ago when a group of nearly two dozen senators from both parties signed onto an infrastructure framework they'd negotiated behind closed doors. Rounds, Young, and Moran were part of the group, and had a hand in crafting the blueprint.
But when it came time to actually pass the bill, these three opposed the bipartisan deal anyway, even when they realized it was going to clear the chamber easily.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), celebrating the bill's passage yesterday, said in floor remarks, "To my colleagues, particularly the group of 10, then 11, then 22, who worked so hard in a bipartisan way: congratulations, congratulations on a job well done."
What he didn't mention was that some members of that group worked on the legislation, but couldn't bring themselves to support it.