Meet the Problem: Twenty-Five Senators Voted to Build “Bridge to Nowhere” in 2005 … and Against Building Bridges Today

Ed Luce of the Financial Times made an astute observation today, regarding the mostly Republican group of senators that filibustered the most recent legislation to invest $60 billion in creating infrastructure jobs:

Until now, America has never faced an ideological divide on infrastructure: both parties accepted the need to upgrade roads, dams, bridges, energy and water systems … We need go back only to 2005 when a Republican-controlled Capitol Hill pushed through the infamous $280bn Highways Act, which was the largest transport bill in US history. Dubbed the “Bridge to Nowhere” because it was stuffed with boondoggles, including the notorious $223m Alaskan bridge to an island of 50 people already served by ferry, the bill won near-unanimous support. A few years later, those seem like the good old days.

That's right, just six years ago, Congress passed a massive infrastructure bill with near unanimous support: 412-8 in the House, 91-4 in the Senate.

So committed to cause of infrastructure was that Republican-controlled Congress in 2005, that they weren't concerned that some of the 6,361 earmarked projects may not have constituted the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

But today? At a time when the need for jobs is painfully greater than six years ago?

A Democratic president proposes an infrastructure bill to create jobs. And every Senate Republican filibusters it.

A Democratic president proposal an infrastructure bill that does not increase the deficit. And every Senate Republican filibusters it.

A Democratic president proposes an infrastructure bill with no earmarks at all. And every Senate Republican filibusters it.

A Democratic president incorporates a bipartisan proposal for an independent infrastructure bank precisely so decisions about funding projects can be made based on the merits instead of on crude earmark politics. And every Senate Republican filibusters it.

Many senators from 2005 are no longer in Congress, as some voters were not impressed with their results in 2006 and 2008.

Yet, there are 25 senators who are still around — including current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who decided in 2005 that the “Bridge to Nowhere” was good enough for your taxpayer dollars, but President Obama's infrastructure bill was not.

Those 25 senators are:

Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.)
Sen. Shelby (R-Ala.)
Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Sen. Lieberman (I-Conn.)
Sen. Chambliss (R-Ga.)
Sen. Isakson (R-Ga.)
Sen. Crapo (R-Idaho)
Sen. Lugar (R-Ind.)
Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa)
Sen. McConnell (R-Ky.)
Sen. Vitter (R-La.)
Sen. Collins (R-Me.)
Sen. Snowe (R-Me.)
Sen. Cochran (R-Miss.)
Sen. Nelson (D-Neb.)
Sen. Burr (R-N.C.)
Sen. Coburn (R-Okla.)
Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Sen. DeMint (R-S.C.)
Sen. Graham (R-S.C)
Sen. Thune (R-S.D.)
Sen. Alexander (R-Tenn.)
Sen. Hutchison (R-Tex.)
Sen. Hatch (R-Utah)
Sen. Enzi (R-Wyo.)

These are your champions of hypocrisy. These are the people who support infrastructure only when it might help them get re-elected.

These are the people who are standing in the way.