Republicans closely aligned with former President Donald Trump have threatened to oust the GOP House members who broke with their party to help Democrats pass President Joe Biden‘s sweeping $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill late Friday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had discouraged defectors, urging his caucus before the vote not to assist Biden in delivering on elements of his domestic agenda.
Still, 13 House Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed 228-206. With six progressives in revolt, the legislation would not have succeeded if it were not for their support.
Eight of the Republican defectors—Don Bacon of Nebraska, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, John Katko of New York, Tom Reed of New York, Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, and Fred Upton of Michigan—are part of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of bipartisan lawmakers who helped to negotiate the bill.
Another five House Republicans—Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Don Young of Alaska, Nicole Malliotakis of New York, David B. McKinley of West Virginia, and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey—bucked their party to follow the party’s traditionalist route of backing infrastructure funding.
They faced swift backlash from their hard-right GOP colleagues, with some calling on the defectors to be removed from the party.
“Every Republican who voted for the infrastructure bill must be eliminated from the party,” tweeted Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini.
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted: “RINOS [Republicans in name only] just passed this wasteful $1.2 trillion dollar ‘infrastructure’ bill. Pelosi did not have the votes in her party to pass this garbage. Time to name names and hold these fake republicans accountable.”
“Vote for this infrastructure bill and I will primary the hell out of you,” said North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn.
Josh Barnett, a self-described “American First” Arizona House candidate, said: “13 Republicans just voted to turn America into a communist country. They should be pushed back on so hard til 2022 that their lives are absolutely miserable til we have them removed.”
Despite the backlash, Fitzpatrick, the Republican co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, stood by his decision to back the bill, calling a “victory for not only the people of Pennsylvania, but for the entire country.”
“With the House passage of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we are one step closer to fixing our nation’s crumbling physical infrastructure,” he said in a statement. “America’s infrastructure has reached a breaking point, and this is a challenge we can no longer ignore.”
Among the major investments, the “hard” infrastructure bill allocates funding for roads and highways, bridges, broadband development, water support, and airport projects.
It is the biggest transportation spending legislation in U.S. history.
Newsweek reached out to Fitzpatrick’s office for further comment.