Congressman David McKinley, a Republican facing backlash over his vote in favor of a federal infrastructure bill, says it’s no big deal.
“Let ’em feel that way,” McKinley said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
The fallout has included speculation that congressional Republicans might strip committee assignments from the 13 GOP members who voted for the bill.
The federal infrastructure bill includes $1.2 trillion in funding for roads, bridges, other transportation improvements, water quality projects and broadband internet.
West Virginia’s share is expected to be about $6 billion.
McKinley said he voted for the bill because West Virginia has such deep and longstanding infrastructure needs.
“I think the big thing has to be statistically. US News and World report had already ranked West Virginia as having the worst infrastructure in America,” McKinley said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
“We’re going to vote no all because of politics? Let’s stop this nonsense.”
.@RepMcKinley was 1 of 13 Republicans to vote for the infrastructure bill. What was his reasoning behind his vote? He explains it all to @HoppyKercheval. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/db4hW93wDJ
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) November 10, 2021
The infrastructure bill has been divisive among Republicans over concern that it can be seen as a win for the Biden administration.
“All Republicans who voted for Democrat longevity should be ashamed of themselves,” former President Donald Trump said in a statement.
Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said on a podcast that the 13 House members should be punished.
“These people voted for Joe Biden for an infrastructure bill that will clear the way for more socialist spending that quite frankly gives Joe Biden a win,” Meadows said.
Fox News opinion host Laura Ingraham singled out McKinley for criticism, saying he had a “particularly lame, Pelosi-inspired reason for supporting it.” She zeroed in on McKinley’s concern that broadband must be improved because so many West Virginia school children have had to seek out wifi access in school parking lots.
“The fact is, these 13 House Republicans are trusting Biden’s cabinet secretaries to spend this gargantuan sum of money, do it wisely, when the smart move would have been to wait to pass a clean infrastructure bill until the Republicans take back the House next year,” Ingraham said.
McKinley today said he has already waited long enough.
He had already waited through the Obama and Trump administrations for the chance to vote on infrastructure investment, he said.
“Under Obama, tried to have it and we never got to a vote. Under President Trump, he had a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and Pelosi would not let that come to a vote. Finally we had this vote. This is time to put politics aside and ask what’s good for the constituents of West Virginia. What do they need? And when we’re ranked 50th, it’s not time to play politics.”
Senators Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also voted for the bill and had roles in its formulation.
The other members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation, Carol Miller and Alex Mooney, voted against the infrastructure bill. Among their concerns was worry over a connection to a separate social safety net bill called Build Back Better that is still being negotiated.
“Because Nancy Pelosi has now linked this bill to the trillion-dollar socialist spending spree, I voted ‘no,'” Miller said.
Mooney put out a statement after Friday’s vote that he had not supported it because “it is full of liberal priorities totally unrelated to infrastructure and transportation,” not elaborating with specifics.
“I support better roads, bridges, waterways and broadband internet for the great State of West Virginia. I do not support attaching billions of dollars of wasteful spending and tax hikes as part of the deal,” Mooney said.
Congressional incumbents McKinley and Mooney are on a collision course for the 2022 Republican primary in a newly-redistricted swath of northern West Virginia.
Today, McKinley said he doesn’t get what Miller and Mooney even mean. He threw shade at Mooney’s role as a Maryland state senator before winning congressional office from West Virginia in 2015.
“I don’t know what’s motivating them. I don’t know what the infrastructure was like in Maryland,” McKinley said.
“Just look at the bill. There is no pork. There is no liberal policy statements in it. It’s all infrastructure.”
Manchin this week praised McKinley for his vote and said Mooney is on the wrong side of the issue.
“For Mooney to try to use this against David McKinley – I think that’s going to hurt him so bad when people know what he voted against,” Manchin said.
Gov. Jim Justice this week said he welcomes the estimated $6 billion in West Virginia investment.
The governor praised members of the congressional delegation, like McKinley, who voted for the infrastructure bill — while also saying he understands why the others wouldn’t.
“It took a lot of guts for David McKinley to step up and vote for this. He really knows how valuable this is for West Virginia,” Justice said.
But the governor expressed concern that the infrastructure bill, which has passed, could somehow open the door for the social safety net bill that is separate and still under consideration.
“I totally understand the votes from our other congressman and congresswoman. They’re right. They’re worried about this social spending bill,” Justice said. “This may be the momentum to lead the way to this social spending bill.”
The governor seemed to conclude that a vote for roads, bridges, clean water and broadband is the most beneficial position for the state.
“We thank Congressman McKinley, we thank Senator Capito, we thank Senator Manchin. It was a difficult vote. I understand both sides of it,” Justice said. “But we’ve got to first and foremost watch out for our home state.”