Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Photo by Wu Hongli

Photo by Wu Hongli

Last night, the House finally passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, no thanks to a group of “progressives.” CNN: These 6 House Democrats voted against the infrastructure bill. These 13 Republicans voted for it.

The House on Friday voted 228-206 to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill after hours of delays and debating among Democrats, sending the bipartisan measure to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

But while Democratic leaders managed to unify House progressives and moderates to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, not all members of the party ultimately supported it.

A number of progressives — who have consistently called for both the infrastructure and the separate economic package, known as the Build Back Better Act, to move together — voted “no” on the legislation.

Here are the six House Democrats who broke from their party to vote against the bill: Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York, Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan

Thirteen Republicans in the House voted with Democrats to approve the bill. They are: Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Rep. Andrew Gabarino of New York, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Rep. John Katko of New York, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York, Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia,  Rep. Tom Reed of New York, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, Fred Upton of Michigan, Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, Rep. Don Young of Alaska.

Also from CNN: Here’s what’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The bill calls for investing $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects. That’s significantly less than the $159 billion that Biden initially requested in the American Jobs Plan.

Included is $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation, according to the bill text. The White House says it would be the single, largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system, which started in the 1950s.

The deal also contains $16 billion for major projects that would be too large or complex for traditional funding programs, according to the White House.

Hisakata Hiroyuki

Photo by Hisakata Hiroyuki

Some 20%, or 173,000 miles, of the nation’s highways and major roads are in poor condition, as are 45,000 bridges, according to the White House.

The investments would focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

Also in the package is $11 billion for transportation safety, including a program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities, especially of cyclists and pedestrians, according to the White House. It would direct funding for safety efforts involving highways, trucks, and pipeline and hazardous materials.

And it contains $1 billion to reconnect communities — mainly disproportionately Black neighborhoods — that were divided by highways and other infrastructure, according to the White House. It will fund planning, design, demolition and reconstruction of street grids, parks or other infrastructure.

The bill will provide funding for public transit and rail, broadband upgrade, upgrading airports, ports and waterways, electric vehicles, improving power and water systems, and environmental remediation. Read more details at the CNN link. See also this article at The New York Times: This Is Where the States Want Billions in Infrastructure Funding Spent.

The Republicans who voted for the bill are being attacked by the Trump Party. Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: GOP erupts over its House members bailing out Biden.

Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed late Friday night and is headed for his signature after months of intense wrangling over the details — particularly whether it would be tied to a larger spending plan that progressives insisted upon passing alongside it. But in the end it wasn’t really those progressives who provided the key votes, but rather 13 Republicans. The final vote count was 228 to 206, meaning if no Republicans had voted for the bill, it wouldn’t have passed.

And some Republicans are predictably furious — with undersold questions about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) future leadership of the party potentially in the offing.

“I can’t believe Republicans just gave the Democrats their socialism bill,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said….

“That 13 House Republicans provided the votes needed to pass this is absurd,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) said.

Andrei Salokhin

By Andrei Salokhin

Others threatened before the vote to target or launch primaries against the defectors in their midst.

Vote for this infrastructure bill and I will primary the hell out of you,” Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) said shortly before the vote.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), in her typically understated fashion, warned last week that any Republican who voted for the bill would be “a traitor to our party, a traitor to their voters and a traitor to our donors.” After the vote, she accused the 13 of having voted to “pass Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America” and tweeted the phone numbers to their congressional offices (while for some reason only listing 12 of the 13)….

“That 13 House Republicans provided the votes needed to pass this is absurd,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) said.

Others threatened before the vote to target or launch primaries against the defectors in their midst.

Vote for this infrastructure bill and I will primary the hell out of you,” Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) said shortly before the vote.

This is pretty interesting. I wonder if the DC press will begin writing about Republicans in disarray? Just kidding.

Friday’s GOP defections were even more significant than during the last Trump impeachment, when 10 Republicans voted to impeach the president — a historically high number. And the fact that on Friday they provided the votes necessary for passage makes this even more fraught.

Photo by Willard Culver

Photo by Willard Culver

They were also more significant than many, including McCarthy, suggested they might be. While McCarthy previously kept his powder dry on whipping against the bill, he ultimately pushed for his members to vote against it. As recently as last week, McCarthy said, “I don’t expect few, if any, to vote for it, if it comes to the floor today.” In another interview, he was asked about the infrastructure bill and said, “It will fail.”

Circumstances change, but the defections from McCarthy’s party line were significant for the modern era. They also notably included Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), who had been made part of the team led by Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) just earlier this year — the same whipping operation that failed Friday.

Malliotakis comes from a region which stood to benefit more than others from the bill and accounted for many of the GOP yes votes; 5 of the 13 came from New York and New Jersey. But that one in particular has to sting. We knew at least a few Republicans would vote yes and others were seemingly freed up to vote for a bill once it was headed for passage. But 10 Republicans voted for the bill rather quickly, and the eventual total number of defections gave the bill more than just a veneer of bipartisanship (especially when combined with the Senate vote).

Check out this headline at The National Review: Disgraceful House Republicans Rescue Biden’s Flailing Agenda.

One of the Republicans who voted yes has issued a warning for the future. CNN: Retiring GOP lawmaker warns Trump will try to steal the next election.

Retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez has a warning for his fellow Republicans: former President Donald Trump will try to steal the next election.

Gonzalez was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. In the face of relentless attacks and threats directed toward him and his family afterward, the Ohio Republican chose to retire from Congress at the end of his term and avoid facing off with a Trump-backed primary challenger next year.

With Trump appearing to prepare for another presidential run in 2024, Gonzalez told CNN he will try to stop Trump from running the same 2020 playbook to overturn another election, but he warned that Trump could have more help next time from those in charge of running — and certifying — elections.

“January 6 was an unconstitutional attempt led by the President of the United States to overturn an American election and reinstall himself in power illegitimately. That’s fallen nation territory, that’s third world country territory. My family left Cuba to avoid that fate. I will not let it happen here,” Gonzalez said.

“I think it’s all pushing towards one of two outcomes: He either wins legitimately, which he may do, or if he loses again, you just try to steal it,” he added.

Hisakata Hiroyuki2

Photo by Hisakata Hiroyuki2

The quotes are from CNN’s excellent special “Trumping Democracy: An American Coup,”  If you didn’t watch it last night, I hope you will see it next time it airs. More Gonzalez quotes:

Gonzalez pointed to election officials like Gates as a key reason Trump was unsuccessful in his attempts to subvert the election result in 2020.

“The institutions don’t hold themselves,” he said. “In the moments of truth, you need the right people to pass the most difficult tests. We had just enough people on January 6 pass the test. We have to make sure we have equal number of people to continue to pass the test going forward.”

But Gonzalez and other Republicans fear the officials who stopped Trump in 2020 may be replaced by those “more beholden to him than their oath,” thanks to the former President’s revenge campaign against those who opposed his election lies.

Trump has endorsed Republicans who have embraced his lies about the election in key battleground states for normally low-key secretary of state races, seeking to replace officials who rebuffed his pressure campaign such as Georgia Republican Brad Raffensperger.

“It looks to me that he has evaluated what went wrong on January 6: Why is it that he wasn’t able to steal the election? Who stood in his way?” Gonzalez said. “And he’s going methodically state by state at races from, you know, state Senate races all the way down to county commissioner races trying to get the people who — the Republicans, the RINOs, in his words — who stopped this, who stopped him from stealing the election.”

In other news, those professors who were ordered not to testify in a voting rights case have filed a lawsuit. 

Three professors filed a lawsuit against the University of Florida on Friday, claiming school officials violated their right to free speech by trying to prevent them from offering testimony in a voting rights case.

The case further inflames a heated debate over academic freedom, one that has brought national attention and criticism to the state flagship university.

It was filed on the same day school officials reversed course: After a week of controversy and pushback from faculty, alumni and academics across the country, the University of Florida on Friday said the three political science professors should not be barred from testifying in a voting rights lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

1d353a1445360897ac1bd7b9a7b19be3The complaint by the professors contends the university is discriminating against them based on viewpoints they wish to express, and by trying to prevent them from offering expert testimony on issues of overwhelming public importance, UF violated their First Amendment rights.

Seeking to restrict the professors from testifying is contrary to UF’s stated mission as a public research institution — “to share the benefits of its research and knowledge for the public good,” and to the principles of academic freedom and free speech, the complaint says.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare unlawful the policy of “stifling faculty speech against the State.”

Tragedy struck at a music festival in Houston last night. USA Today:  At least 8 dead, ‘scores’ more injured at concert during Astroworld Festival in Texas, officials say.

Houston authorities are investigating what officials described as a crowd surge that killed at least eight people and injured “scores” of others during the annual Astroworld music festival in Houston while rapper Travis Scott performed.

Officials declared a “mass casualty incident” at 9:38 p.m. Friday local time during the festival at NRG Park, where an estimated 50,000 people were in attendance, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told reporters during an overnight news briefing.

“The crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries, said Peña. “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”

As first responders rushed to the scene, 17 people were transported to local hospitals, including 11 who were in cardiac arrest, the fire chief said. There were scores of other injuries, he added.

Peña said officials did not yet know the cause of death for the eight victims. It was not immediately clear whether they were among those transported to hospitals.

Many people were also treated at the scene, where a field hospital had been set up. About 300 people were examined at that site throughout the day, said Peña.

Astroworld promoters had medical personnel and an emergency transport component at the festival, but “they were quickly overwhelmed” as the injury count mounted at “really a chaotic event,” the fire chief said.

Read more at the link.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?

19 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!!

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. Beata says:

    Love the cat photos!

    My 11 year old kitty can still jump. She’s the best flyswatter I have.

    • NW Luna says:

      Cats are great flyswatters! I count on mine for alerts on spiders and insects in the house. I love the leaping kitties, BB!

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    I have to say this:

    Fuck… “The Squad.”

    • quixote says:

      Apparently they voted *after* the Repubs who ensured it would pass anyway. So it looks like the Squad would have probably voted yes, too, rather than destroy the BIF completely.

      We don’t know for sure, of course, but they may not be total idiots.

      They’ve certainly been less of a problem than the Manema.

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

    The CNN special report on Trump’s coup attempt that I mentioned in the post will be on again tonight at 8.

  8. dakinikat says: