For G.O.P., Infrastructure Bill Is a Chance to Inch Away from Trump
Instead, the answer was crickets.
Ms Collins and Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana calmly pointed out that Mr Trump had backed a much larger infrastructure plan in the past but failed to deliver it. Mr. Portman, who had personally called Mr. Trump to encourage him to support the legislation, politely suggested that Mr. Trump change his tactics and adopt the plan.
When the time came to vote to move the measure forward in the Senate, the coalition of mostly moderate members found that, contrary to Mr. Trump’s efforts, the number of Tory Senators backing their plan had increased, not decreased – with members of the Republican leadership, including Mr. McConnell and Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who is also retiring, are joining their ranks.
North Dakota Republican Senator Kevin Cramer said some of his constituents were “crazy as hell” about his support for the bill – especially about doing something that would make the president Biden handsome. But rather than follow Mr. Trump’s lead, he insisted on talking about the Tory talk show deal.
“I firmly believe that people – the more they live with it, the more they watch it, the more they hear about it, the more they will like it, including the Tories,” Cramer said.
Several Republican advisers said the developments left them with the feeling that while Mr. Trump’s influence over the Senate had not waned, it was diminished.
Indeed, many Republicans have said they are perplexed as to the point Mr. Trump is trying to make. The former president had proposed a $ 1.5 trillion infrastructure package during his tenure, so his opposition to a lean bill seemed motivated either by personal spite or a simple desire to see his predecessor and the opposing party fail.
“It’s not really clear what Trump’s substantive objection is here,” said Philip Wallach, senior researcher at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “He is certainly not saying that an infrastructure bill is bad; he spent his entire four years saying how awesome that would be. So all he says is, “Working with Democrats is bad.” And for many of those senators from closely contested states, they think their electoral base just doesn’t agree that bipartisanship is bad.
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