Republicans Loading 'Bipartisan' Infrastructure Bill With So Many Relevant Amendments In Such Good Faith!
The bipartisan infrastructure bill is finally making its way through the Senate, but first it has to get through the process of voting on amendments — some of which actually may be useful, but many of which just reflect the GOP's very important Culture War priorities, like an amendment by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) that would have restored funding for Donald Trump's border wall. (It failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass, but the vote tally was 48-49.)
It's not clear exactly how long the amendment process will go on; Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) wants to move the bill along efficiently, but Mitch McConnell (R-Roadblock) warned that if Schumer calls a vote to cut off debate too soon, then McConnell would whip Republicans to vote against cloture, potentially stripping away enough of the dozen or so GOP votes needed to pass the bill.
Aren't Senate traditions grand?
Talking Points Memo has been livegblooging the amendment slog, and for that someone should send its reporters pizza. The voting actually went on all night, but the most ridiculous moment (so far) came yesterday, when Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) spoke against an amendment offered by Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) that he claimed was naught but politically correct wokeness. (You can see Toomey's dramatics at around the 1:24:40 mark in the C-SPAN video.)
Toomey said he's just fine with existing requirements that public transit agencies comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), because sure, bus, rail and subway stations should be accessible to all. But Duckworth's amendment went too far beyond simple ADA compliance, he insisted.
Here's the amendment — "SA 2140" — that Toomey had a hissy about; the relevant line requires transit agencies to adopt plans that, in addition to maximizing accessibility and improve operations, would also
address equity of service to all riders regardless of income, age, race, or ability, taking into account historical and current service gaps for low-income riders, older individuals, riders from communities of color, and riders with disabilities.
To hear Toomey talk, you'd have thought Duckworth had called for the text of the 1619 Project to be painted on the side of every bus and subway car in America. He griped that Duckworth's "woke planning mandate" had already been dropped from the first round of negotiations on the bill, and insisted it would amount to a "new federal race, age, and income equity mandate."
That nonsense was a rusted, pothole-riddled bridge too far for Toomey, who insisted,
[This] is politically correct virtue signaling. This is people claiming that transit agencies are somehow racist and that we've got to — don't know — we've got to make sure is that escalators are not racist!
Worse, Toomey warned that the amendment would create new woke burdens for transit planners, because
You could have bureaucracies here micromanaging who knows what — route planning, fare prices, frequency of service — out of some presumed systemic racism in transit agencies. If we adopted this, then decisions by transit agencies that should be guided by cost and ridership issues would end up be being influenced by wokism.
Toomey wasn't about to allow such slander on good decent Americans who run our transit agencies, who "don't need to be second-guessed by social engineers who are insisting that their agency is rife with racism." Because it could not be possible that poorer neighborhoods are not as well-served by transit as richer neighborhoods. Who could ever think of such a thing?
Toomey repeated that the bill as already written includes standard ADA compliance requirements, and urged the Senate again to reject Duckworth's "woke planning mandate."
Duckworth, clearly stunned by all that nonsense, replied that her amendment "is not racist," and that it
does not call any particular agency racist. [...] My amendment simply ensures that recipients of these critical federal resources fully consider the goals and requirements of the [Americans with Disabilities Act] and develop a plan to maximize accessibility across their systems. This is common sense and good government.
In other amendment fun, Joni Ernst has written up — but not yet actually introduced — an amendment designed to drag the sexual harassment charges against New York gov. Andrew Cuomo into the infrastructure debate, because that's perfectly reasonable. Ernst's proposed amendment would prohibit
funding to go to any state in which the governor of such state has been found, by the relevant state or federal authorities, to have sexually harassed employees while holding the position of governor.
The New York Post dutifully reports that it "remains unclear whether the amendment will be brought to the floor for a vote."
The amendment process is expected to drag out for a bit longer as Schumer gauges just how much pointless delay will be enough for McConnell (other than "until the heat death of the universe"). It's worth noting that the latest polling continues to show broad public support for both the narrow bipartisan infrastructure deal, and for the much more expansive package of "human infrastructure" and climate change provisions that will be passed by the reconciliation process.
Let's stop with the farting around and get this thing done, please!
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