House Republican Touts Benefits of Infrastructure Law He Voted Against

Republican Representative Gary Palmer issued a press release on Monday last week, taking credit for the infrastructure bill he voted against in the House. This came on the same day as President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bill into law, ensuring major infrastructure development and up-gradation that traverses the entire country.

In his statement, he commended a provision of the law in the following words, “Funding the Northern Beltline has consistently been one of my top priorities”. Also adding, “Birmingham is currently one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country without a complete beltline around it. Completing the Northern Beltline will benefit the entire region and enhance economic development and employment opportunities”.

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This provision was the result of Rep. Gary Palmer’s efforts to include the Beltline Project into the infrastructure bill. However, he failed to support it on the floor when he voted against the bill.

He had called the bill a “recklessly expensive” one, advising the Biden administration to create one that “focused on national priorities rather than wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on a Green New Deal wish list and programs under the guise of human infrastructure that simply expand government control of our lives.”

The Project

The Northern Beltline project has completed its first phase which started way back in 2014. A 52 mile, 6-lane corridor is to be built, connecting the I-59 in northeast Jefferson County to the I-459 interchange with I-59/20 near Bessemer.

Biden’s infrastructure law wished to secure funding for this project which will stimulate economic growth in the area. Rep. Gary Palmer cited the Appalachian Regional Commission for estimating that the project will have an annual economic impact exceeding $2 billion in 10 years and create 14,000 jobs.

House Republican Touts Benefits
House Republican Touts Benefits

“This is the opportunity we have been working for as a region and a state. Now is the time for us to take advantage of it and complete the work by finishing the Northern Beltline and building a better future for the Birmingham metro area and central Alabama,” Palmer said.

The Democrat Reaction

Democrats had predicted that the Republicans were making things difficult for them with voting ‘no’ to each Biden bill. Moreover, they were sure that Republicans would come along to take credit in front of the public. From time to time, Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and John Yarmuth had voiced their prognosis. 

Earlier this year, Yarmuth had said at the time of voting for the American Rescue Plan, “What we are all concerned about on our side is that the Republicans are all going to vote against this, and then they’re going to show up at every ribbon cutting, and at every project funded out of this bill, and they’re going to pump up their chests and take credit for all of these great benefits that are coming to their citizens.”

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A similar situation had been witnessed during the tenure of President Obama after the Recovery Act was passed in 2009. Republicans who had opposed the Act vehemently showed up in the ribbon-cutting ceremonies organized in their local districts. This prediction of Yarmuth’s proved true when Republicans who had rejected the Biden Administration’s COVID Relief package, turned up at the time of taking credits.

When Palmer didn’t mention in the press release that he had not voted for the infrastructure bill, Democrats were quick to remind him of his error. In a tweet replying to Palmer, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said “You mean the funding you voted against? That funding? #DemocratsDeliver”.

Why Palmer said ‘No’

Elizabeth Hance, a spokesperson in Palmer’s Capitol office, said Palmer’s opposition had been towards the overall bill being “full of problems, including items not related to traditional infrastructure.”

“He said in the initial release that the Northern Beltline was a positive measure, even though he opposed the overall legislation. Had they brought the bill he authored to the floor as a stand-alone piece of legislation, or even a package that was truly paid-for infrastructure, he would have supported the overall bill.

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They did not,” she said to ABC News. “It should not be surprising that he supports a provision that he authored and that was noted in the initial release about the infrastructure bill.”

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