ICYMI: MAGA Republicans Vote No But Take the Dough (IRA Edition)
January 24, 2023
MAGA Republicans have done it again: After touting funding from both the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that they publicly opposed, they’re now taking credit for critical jobs and projects from President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act that every single one of them voted against.
POLITICO: “Red states are winning big from Dems’ climate law”
By Kelsey Tamborrino and Josh Siegel
January 23, 2023
They didn’t vote for it, they don’t like it and they’re working to undermine it — but Republicans are reaping the benefits of Democrats’ climate law.
In the five months since the Inflation Reduction Act became law, companies have announced tens of billions of dollars in renewable energy, battery and electric vehicle projects that will benefit from incentives in President Joe Biden’s signature law, aimed at expanding domestic manufacturing in clean energy and reducing dependence on Chinese imports.
In fact, roughly two-thirds of the major projects are in districts whose Republican lawmakers opposed the Inflation Reduction Act, according to a POLITICO analysis of major green energy manufacturing announcements made since the bill’s enactment.
The dynamic has prompted a tricky balancing act for the GOP: Tout the jobs and economic benefits coming to their states and districts, but not the bill that helped create them…
Republicans insist their positions on the bill and the jobs are not in conflict.
“Just because you vote against a bill doesn’t mean the entire bill is a bad bill,” said Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), who was the top GOP member of Democrats’ Select Climate Crisis Committee in the last Congress. “I go out there and advocate for our district to try and get transportation funds, to try and get energy funds. That’s my job. I am not embarrassed about it. I don’t think it’s inconsistent with my vote.”
To Democrats, the slate of new investments stand as proof that they were correct that the Inflation Reduction Act, H.R. 5376 (117), would expand the reach of clean power to rural and conservative areas — a promise that failed to sway a single Republican vote to support the bill.
“It’s hard not to point out the hypocrisy for people who fought tooth and nail against the bill, those very incentives that are now creating opportunities in their [Republican] districts they are now leading,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.). “We just have to point out, thanks for your kind words, but this didn’t just happen. It happened despite your best efforts.”
Republicans, though, have moved to slash funding of the Internal Revenue Service, the central agency charged with implementing the climate law’s incentives, over concerns that Democrats have expanded its mandate. And Friday, former President Donald Trump urged GOP lawmakers to target “billions being spent on climate extremism” in their fight over the debt limit.
In the three months after Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act in August, companies announced more than $40 billion of new clean energy investments, according to a December report from the American Clean Power Association, an industry trade group. POLITICO’s analysis of the law’s early results includes those projects as well as separate news reports and company announcements of manufacturing expansions and plans, and additional announcements on electric vehicle plants.
Out of 33 projects examined, 21 are expected to be located in Republican-held congressional districts, compared with 12 in Democratic districts. POLITICO’s analysis did not reflect every announcement made and does not include facilities where a specific congressional district could not be found.
Just this month, South Korean solar company Hanwha Q Cells announced it would invest $2.5 billion in Georgia to expand its solar panel manufacturing plant and construct another facility in the state.
That expansion is occurring partially in the district of conservative firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — who has described climate change as “actually healthy for us” and has blasted Democrats’ bill. Greene, however, recently told POLITICO that she’s “excited to have jobs” in her district that will come from the Q Cells announcement, though she gave credit to Georgia’s GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who has courted clean energy and electric vehicle manufacturing investments through state-level subsidies and tax incentives.
Republicans express no regret about opposing the IRA despite previously supporting individual pieces of the bill, such as tax incentives for carbon capture, nuclear and hydrogen projects. GOP members argued that the bill would pump too much money into the economy and worsen inflation, and they’ve criticized Democrats for using the partisan reconciliation process that allowed them to pass it with a simple majority in the Senate.
“The overall process, the overall bill, particularly the spending, really frustrates Republicans — not necessarily every specific in the bill,” said Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah).
But the GOP is likely to find itself in an uncomfortable position as funding from the Inflation Reduction Act plays a growing role in Republicans home states and districts.
Former Virginia Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello, who lost his reelection bid in 2010 after voting for the Affordable Care Act, said those dynamics put Republicans in a tricky spot once voters see the jobs stemming from Democrats’ agenda.
“Biden has driven his agenda right down Main Street with a big ‘Made in America’ banner on the back of an electric truck, and people’s only choices are to get on board with the parade or seem to be against making things in America again,” he said. “I think of those two choices, Republican hypocrisy makes a lot more sense than standing in the way of jobs and American competitiveness.”
He called it “squirrely” for lawmakers to argue to voters that they like certain parts of the bill, but not others.
“That’s just not how legislating works. That’s not how things pass,” he said.