Senator Mike Rounds was talking a good game about investing in South Dakota, but when the bipartisan compromise infrastructure bill came to a final vote yesterday, he caved to the forces of obstruction and joined Senator John Thune in choosing potholes and partisanship over investing in America’s future.
For months, I have been working with my colleagues to negotiate bipartisan infrastructure legislation. I chose to actively be involved in these discussions to give South Dakota a seat at the table throughout the negotiation process. In many cases, we were successful in advancing traditional infrastructure provisions that will directly benefit South Dakota. However, as this framework progressed out of our bipartisan working groups to the Senate floor, it became evident that the legislation in its final form included several progressive mandates and federal funding clawbacks that I believe go too far.
While I cannot be there in person when the final vote is cast, as I am with my wife Jean en route to the Mayo Clinic where she is undergoing cancer treatments, my intent would be to oppose this legislation in its final form.
The goal of bipartisan negotiations is to find areas of agreement and while that may require us to seek compromise on policy, it’s important that we never compromise on principles. As we combed through the legislative text of this 2,702 page bill and the subsequent amendments, there were many sections that I believe contradict the values of the people of South Dakota who sent me to Washington. With that in mind, I could not in good conscience support this legislation in its final form [Senator Marion Michael Rounds, statement, 2021.08.10].
That’s funny: both of North Dakota’s Senators found good Republican reasons to vote for investing in roads, rail, the power grid, broadband, water systems, airports, electric vehicles, and much more for both Dakotas and the rest of the country. Senator Kevin Cramer said the infrastructure bill will put lazy bums to work:
America’s infrastructure is a worthwhile investment we can’t afford to ignore. The bill we passed today will provide over $2 billion to North Dakota for its roads, bridges, rail, broadband, carbon capture efforts, and orphaned wells cleanup projects, all while making meaningful permitting reforms and reducing bureaucratic hurdles. It pays people to work instead of giving them handouts to stay home, and it includes smart reforms so taxpayer dollars are used more efficiently and unspent COVID-19 relief funds are repurposed for productive activity [Senator Kevin Cramer, statement, 2021.08.10].
Senator John Hoeven said voting for this bill will stick a spoke in the Democrats’ bigger spending wheels:
This bipartisan infrastructure legislation provides $550 billion in new, targeted investments in our roads, bridges, airports, flood protection and other traditional infrastructure. The legislation includes responsible pay fors, including repurposing COVID relief dollars and importantly it does not raise taxes. The Senate could either advance this bipartisan legislation that does not increase taxes, or let the Democrats add more spending with tax increases to their upcoming $3.5 trillion spending spree. I also believe passing this bipartisan traditional infrastructure bill will make it harder for Democrats to pass their $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend bill, which I strongly oppose [Senator John Hoeven, statement, 2021.08.10].
Yeah, yeah, but remember: Cramer and Hoeven never found the time to move an infrastructure bill through the Senate when their party controlled it and their “President” was tooting truck horns but not much else to make real investments in our roads and bridges. The lesson here is that infrastructure and other practical work gets done when Democrats are in charge.
Senator John Thune remained consistent in his inconsistency, mumbling a few words about supporting infrastructure, although he has yet to put any vote where his mouth is on the subject:
For months, senators from both sides of the aisle engaged in good-faith negotiations to produce an infrastructure bill for the Senate to consider, and I applaud them for their tireless efforts. I have said from the very beginning that this bill should be fully paid for, and unfortunately, that is not the case. While I support investments in our nation’s infrastructure, I could not support this final product that will further increase the national debt and financially burden future generations [Senator John Thune, statement, 2021.08.10].
It’s a good thing we have North Dakota’s Senators looking out for South Dakota’s interests. Otherwise, we’d be homebrewing our own pothole patch and hauling water from our backyard wells.