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Thune Votes Against Infrastructure Investments in South Dakota

We’ve discussed previously how much good President Biden’s proposed infrastructure investments will do for South Dakota‘s economic needs and health needs. But our senior Senator, John Thune, continues to put partisan posturing ahead of serving this state. In a procedural vote held shortly after Senators and the White House announced a deal, Senator Thune refused to join Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and sixteen other Republicans in moving the process forward.

Senator Thune voted no on the procedural vote despite rumbling vaguely that he wants to encourage the process:

The No. 2 Senate GOP leader, John Thune of South Dakota, told reporters that Republicans still wanted to see the final details, but he was open to voting for the bill.

“I want to encourage this because I think it’s good to have a bipartisan exercise around here once in a while on something that matters, and it’s important to people in the country,” Thune said. He thought leaders would work on a deal to consider amendments so both sides could try to add elements [Deirdre Walsh, “Senate Advances Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal,” NPR, 2021.07.28].

Senator Rounds has been involved in the negotiations with the White House, and last month he “backed the framework last month,” but we don’t know where Rounds stands now, as he somehow missed last night’s vote.

Every Democrat and independent in the Senate—Charles Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Tammy Duckworth, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Ron Wyden, Tim Kaine, Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock, Elizabeth Warren…—is willing right now to spend money on South Dakota’s infrastructure. So are both of North Dakota’s Republican Senators, Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven. So are Senators Roy Blunt, Richard Burr, and Rob Portman, who have announced they are retiring at the end of their terms in 2022. So are Senators Mike Crapo, Charles Grassley, Lisa Murkowski, and Todd Young, who with Hoeven face re-election next year yet, unlike Thune, are more interested in making smart long-term investments in America’s strength than in appeasing an extremist anti-American base.

I’d like to think Thune would face more voter wrath for standing between us and federal dollars for roads, bridges, water pipes, broadband, and other vital infrastructure. I’d like to think a smart Democrat could win a majority by saying at rallies, “You know those roads you used to get here? John Thune voted against that pavement. You know that water you drank this morning? John Thune voted against the pipes that got it to your tap. You know that dead spot where you can’t get signal on your phone on the way to work? John Thune voted to leave that spot dead.” But evidently Senator Thune thinks he faces a greater threat to keeping his cushy D.C. job from the radicals of his own party who favor anarchy and poverty than from regular South Dakotans who believe in smart government and 21st-century infrastructure.


  1. Loren 2021-07-29

    Face voter wrath? Are you kidding me? He will come back and take credit for any $$$ sent to SD just like the GQPers did with the covid stimulus programs. The guy is a chameleon, a pretzel, a jellyfish. Think of the comments he made after the Capital police testified. He was “busy” but found enuf time to blame Nancy Pelosi. I think his distinguished father would vomit on his shoes if he were alive today! Come on, Democrats, find someone to oust this shill!

  2. Guy 2021-07-29

    Can we trade with Arizona and get Kyrsten Sinema to be our Senator?

  3. jerry 2021-07-29

    Thune and Rounds know that their voters don’t know what infrastructure really is. Ignorance is bliss. If the good old boys and girls can make it to the interstate highway (federal) then they can get to the rodeo and that is really all that matters.

  4. Lottie 2021-07-29

    Many times i think politicians dont think outside of the box. Use “common sense” now and then…. Who cares if your a Republican or not, oh my gosh.

  5. Guy 2021-07-29

    John Thune just wants to hold things up and play political games. Congress finally needs to craft a much needed infrastructure bill, and I think the bipartisan move led by Arizona’s Senator Sinema is a great start. Thune is more interested in securing his job as a “majority leader” of the Republican Party. It’s welcoming news that 17 Republican Senators had better sense to cross political lines and support this latest move by Sinema for debate on the bill. The rest of Congress can act like adults and hammer out the details of a sustainable Infrastructure, Investment & Jobs Act while John Thune diddles around in his office, plotting his next power moves.

  6. John Dale 2021-07-29

    Isn’t this a non-issue?

    I think Thune is trying to prove he can be budget minded (he’s worse than Amy Klobuchar of MN on budget).

    But, honestly, what is in the bill?

    I bet it’s huge.

    And wasteful.

    So .. this is not Thune’s attack surface for a true conservative primary opponent.

    His attack surface is public safety (5G) and election integrity (an attack off limits to Democrats .. maybe forever).

  7. Donald Pay 2021-07-29

    I don’t know what is all in the bill, so I don’t know how I would vote on the thing. I prefer smaller pieces of legislation dealing with discrete “single subjects” that are run through normal procedures, not big infrastructure bills run through extra-legal groups claiming to be “bi-partisan,” but which really are lobbyist controlled entities.

    But voting “no” on a procedural vote is ridiculous. They need to get rid of stupid Senate “procedures” meant to kill legislation and use normal committee process to pass legislation. The problem is few Senators or Representatives want to do do the real work of governance anymore. They are too busy kissing lobbyists’ butts and kowtowing to party leaders.

  8. sx123 2021-07-29

    It’s probably best to see the details of a bill before voting on it. This goes for any bill…

  9. cibvet 2021-07-29

    It was a procedural vote to move the bill forward which means the senators would actually have to study the bill for a vote to pass or fail. Thune realizes this would require him and Rounds to actually do their job. They both know they will be paid and their positions are safe so why vote to work.

  10. Guy 2021-07-29

    The move is to vote to BEGIN DEBATE on perfecting the bill. Its NOT a vote on the bill itself. So, Thune does NOT want DEBATE on it…Thune just wants to STALL DEBATE.

  11. mike from iowa 2021-07-29

    Anybody dumb enough to believe magats want election integrity is too damn dumb to breathe on his/her own. Marlboro Barbie voted no because that is the safe choice for his re-election.

  12. Guy 2021-07-29

    Thune is NOT going to stop the momentum to DEBATE the bill. Senate voted 67-32 to begin work on perfecting the bill. The Senate is leaving Thune behind…they do not need Thune or Rounds.

  13. cibvet 2021-07-29

    Guy says (they do not need Thune or Rounds.) Neither does SD, but it appears we are stuck with them.

  14. Guy 2021-07-29

    Cibvet, to bad we can not trade Thune for Sinema.

  15. Aaron 2021-07-29

    Any federally dependent red state legislator who votes against a bill like this is a fool or a coward. Good for North Dakota’s senators for being in touch with reality

  16. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-29

    Well…while I usually think of myself as something of a fiscal conservative, I’m for a MONSTER infrastructure bill. We need to get young people working at well paid jobs. We need to raise the next generations standard of living and expectations. We need to get South Dakota moving and its the twenty year olds who will do the moving, either by working at good jobs in the state, or sadly, moving out of state.

  17. O 2021-07-29

    Did Thune’s no vote come with a heads up to our state legislature and governor to save room in the state budget to fund needed state infrastructure? Maybe he’s just tired of being on the dole with a taker state? Maybe this is a principled stand against South Dakota’s “welfare queen” status?

    Or maybe this is signaling that he received former President Trumps demand to Republicans not to deal with Democrats, and instead wait until the second coming (when President Trump didn’t even begin infrastructure funding — even during his now Infrastructure Week).

  18. John Dale 2021-07-29

    Arlo – if this is an actual infrastructure bill and not a big fat pork sandwich, I’m with you.

  19. Mark Anderson 2021-07-29

    It’s easy folks, I’m betting the bill will be a big pork sandwich to John Dale. Any takers?

  20. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-29

    well…one man’s pork is another man’s employment…there will be plenty of good, necessary projects in the bill…more importantly, its a new century. We need to turn the page and get on with the next, new thing…the next interstate system, the next communications system, the next scientific and engineering breakthrough. We’ve been off the side of the road, stuck in the mud up to our hubs…the status quo is unacceptable…we cannot relive the past nor can we survive on yesterday’s infrastructure.

  21. Guy 2021-07-29

    Arlo and I agree with something that is worthwhile for the nation. I pray that this is the beginning of some serious bipartisanship work on Congress. I so over the “one-upmanship” of the two major political parties…BORING…YAWN. Extreme partisanship is so 20th Century. Kyrsten Sinema gets kudos from me for leading this process on perfecting such an important bill, possibly the MOST important bill that Congress will work on this year.

  22. mike from iowa 2021-07-29

    Arizona dems are likely to throw Sinema out on her patoot for blocking important legislation to protect all citizens right to vote from partisan magat hordes in red states. She and Manchin are being played for suckers by McCTurtlefartface and Marlboro Barbie who are likely to blow up any infrastructure deal(s).

  23. Guy 2021-07-29

    Mike, I doubt it. McConnell and Thune can continue to play political power games, but, the Senate has signaled they have moved on with this latest vote. If Thune wants to keep going down the path of irrelevancy, who are we to stop him? Let him go down that path.

  24. Guy 2021-07-29

    Cory is correct. South Dakotan voters: do you want to reelect John Thune who only cares about John Thune? Here is a man who is more concerned with accumulating power than actually working as a team member to help South Dakota with what could possibly be the most important bill considered in this Congress: The Infrastructure, Investment & Jobs Act.
    John Thune: do you want to be a team player and work to advance the interests of your constituents OR play political games to defeat a bill that will do just that, so, you can build on your own power in the Republican Party?

  25. O 2021-07-29

    The GOP got a big gift to their donors in the funding of this bill. Democrats wanted some money to go to the IRS to enforce current tax code (the IRS estimates that 441 billion is lost annually to illegal evasion); the GOP stonewalled that. The only, ONLY reason for that is that well-represented tax cheats don’t want the government infringing on their nasty law breaking. The game is already rigged in the wealthy’s favor; still they demand the enforcement also let them skate.

  26. O 2021-07-29

    Guy, I think infrastructure was the final test of “bipartisanship” in the Senate. If the GOP decided to kill infrastructure outright, the Democrats would have taken this as the last straw and run EVERYTHING possible through budget reconciliation — rendering the GOP(and any olive branch or discussion with the GOP) irrelevant to the law making process.

    At some point the majority party, who represents the VAST majority of the nation, ought to have the power to govern.

  27. V 2021-07-30

    Thune is more interested in robocalls than bridges, roads, and transportation. Notice how many more you receive now that he is working on it? Once again, I ask a question that nobody can answer. What has he done for South Dakotans and for our country in his past 6 year stint, besides ranting off about robocalls?

    Those senators, like Thune and Rounds, who are opposed to the infrastructure bill just WHINE WHINE WHINE but never get anything done. How ineffective and useless. Glad I’m not married to one. They blindly following the BIGGEST WHINER (a new reality show) like lemmings, mice, and shadows.

  28. O 2021-07-30

    V, when your party’s schtick is that government is a failure, whining and doing nothing is REQUIRED to perpetuate your ginned up disdain.

  29. mike from iowa 2021-07-30

    Interesting article, Joe. Many thanks for the link. Keep up the good work, Sir.

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