Punchbowl News reported Tuesday that there is a nascent movement to strip those members of their committees, and former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows endorsed that approach later in the day.
The idea builds upon the right’s widespread denunciation of the 13, which cropped up shortly after they delivered what wound up being the decisive votes for the $1.2 trillion package Friday.
It’s difficult to imagine something better epitomizing our modern politics today — especially when you look at the stated reasons for it.
Very little of the pushback is about the bill having been bad. After all, even Donald Trump was pitching a $1 trillion infrastructure package as a candidate five years ago. Instead, these members’ true sin, according to accounts like Meadows’s, was in handing a president of the other party a “win.”
Meadows delivered his comments Tuesday, as it happens, while appearing on the show of the very same Trump adviser who had spearheaded Trump’s own $1 trillion infrastructure push, Stephen K. Bannon.
“They stripped Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committees for not even voting against the Republican Party,” Meadows said. “These people voted for Joe Biden, for a infrastructure bill that will clear the way for more socialist spending that, quite frankly, gives Joe Biden a win.”
The National Review denounced the members in similar terms shortly after the vote Friday night, pitching this mostly as “political malpractice” that gave Democrats a lifeline following a bad Election Day for the party earlier in the week.
“[Biden] headed into the 2022 election year a wounded animal, and Republicans stood to make major gains,” the piece said. “Now, they tossed him a life raft and allowed him to put bipartisan gloss on his radical agenda.”
“I just find it to be disappointing coming from these 13 Republicans who have given a win to [Nancy] Pelosi and a win to Joe Biden,” former Trump White House aide Mercedes Schlapp said on Fox Business.
Schlapp also derided the bill’s specifics, while pointing to the debunked idea that very little of it actually involves infrastructure. But her tweet about the interview made clear what she thought was most worth emphasizing — the raw politics.
Meadows’s comments, in particular, are something to behold. Greene was stripped of her committee assignments for having advocated violence against Democrats, among many other extreme comments and baseless claims. (And it wasn’t Republicans stripping her of her assignments; it was Democrats.) Meadows apparently views voting against one’s own party as a bigger deal than that. And the party seems to agree, given its new push comes even as yet another House member, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), is again toying with the idea of violence against Democrats. There appears to be no similar push to punish Gosar or even rebuke him.
To be clear, there is a valid argument here that the political gamesmanship is important, especially as it pertains to the next big piece of legislation on Biden’s agenda. The passage of Biden’s larger spending bill had been tied to passing the infrastructure bill, with liberals saying they wanted the bigger bill passed first before supporting the infrastructure bill. In the end, some liberals still held out. Clearing this hurdle means the bigger bill can now get more earnest consideration, though significant hurdles remain among party moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
It’s also true that this probably helps Democrats politically in the case they can make to voters ahead of the 2022 election. Biden promised bipartisanship, and he delivered something that required winning votes from the other side.
But also consider how the politics of this are being described. These 13 members are assumed to be members of the team and they should do what’s best for the party, first and foremost. By and large, it doesn’t allow for the idea that, just maybe, they were voting for something they thought was a good idea or was good for their constituencies.
Others have crafted moderate reputations in swing districts or have generally praised the idea of investing in infrastructure. They voted for a bill that polls often showed had twice as much support as opposition.
Indeed, given how the package polled and the emphasis on a similarly sized infrastructure package from the previous Republican administration, it might even be surprising more Republicans didn’t support it — or at least try to help craft it. In the Senate months ago, 19 Republicans voted for the same package (albeit while apparently trying to defuse talk of doing away with the filibuster).
That those senators aren’t being targeted as hard as their House compatriots drives home the point here.
In the end, 38 percent of Senate Republicans voted for the bill, compared with 6 percent of House Republicans. Those 38 percent of Senate Republicans played every bit as much of a role in this as that 6 percent of House Republicans, and arguably an even bigger one. The filibuster in the Senate, after all, meant Democrats needed lots of GOP votes there; they only wound up truly needing one GOP vote in the House — something that had been widely expected.
But those 13 House Republicans had the unfortunate distinction of being the last ones to sign off on Biden’s “win” — and just so happened to do so by a margin that meant it wouldn’t have passed without them. And for that, they apparently must be punished, threatened and potentially excommunicated.