Republicans Vow To Secure ‘Priority’ Infrastructure Funding They Voted Against

Memorial Bridge

The Senate last week failed to pass H.R. 1, the House Republican-approved bill that set spending levels for the rest of 2011, by a 44-56 vote. All but three Republicans (who didn’t think the bill cut enough government spending) voted aye.

Amongst H.R. 1’s many destructive and economically counterproductive measures is a provision rescinding unobligated money from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II, or TIGER II, grant program. The program is designed to deliver competitive grants to states for high-need infrastructure projects.

Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) voted for H.R. 1, and thus to dismantle TIGER II, but is still asking the Department of Transportation to give a Tiger II grant to a bridge refurbishing project in her state, calling it “the No. 1 transportation priority” for New Hampshire:

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., wants Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to speed up the review process so her state can get its $20 million, one-fifth the cost of replacing a bridge from Portsmouth, N.H., to Kittery, Maine. “This is the No. 1 transportation priority for New Hampshire and Maine as well,” Ayotte said in an interview.

Both of Maine’s Republican senators — Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — also voted for H.R. 1, but are still trying to secure funding for the bridge project. Two other New Hampshire Republicans — Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass — voted for H.R. 1, but have said that they want the bridge funding. “Clearly, the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth should be a priority for the New Hampshire delegation to preserve,” Bass said.

During an appearance before Congress last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood explained that voting for H.R 1 would mean eliminating these infrastructure projects. “We just want to make sure everybody understands that,” LaHood said.

But its not only Granite state’s Republicans that want funding they voted against. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who voted against H.R. 1, still wants a rail project in Fort Wayne funded. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also voted to kill the grant program, but still wants a Salt Lake City streetcar project to receive funding. “This is a rail system that really is needed and has been promised, and I think it ought to be granted,” Hatch said.

Of course, Republicans have had no compunctions about first voting against infrastructure money and then taking credit for it back home. In fact, 114 different GOP lawmakers voted against the 2009 Recovery Act, yet took credit for various projects. Overall, the Republican spending bill “cuts funding for transportation infrastructure by 9 percent, slashing $2.7 billion from rail, $675 million from federal transit investments, and nearly $1 billion from highway investments.”