Freshman GOPer Hopes That Transportation Project He Voted To Cut Gets Restored

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Life was more fun for Republicans when they could vote “no” on job-creating bills like the stimulus, then go to ribbon-cutting ceremonies for stimulus projects in their districts.

Now that they’re voting “yes” on bills that will slash, delay or eliminate those projects, life’s pretty rough.

Check out, for instance, this interview with freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL), who’s tied in knots over his recent vote to kill a transportation project in his district. Specifically, he voted for the House spending legislation, which would eliminate a $230 million federal grant to build an Amtrak line from Chicago to Iowa City, if it goes into effect.“I’m not saying that we don’t ever do Amtrak,” Schilling said. “I’m saying that right now. I want to be clear because that was all part of the big picture when you looked at the pros and cons of what was in there, it was definitely the way to go… to vote for this.”

This was a big deal in his district, so of course people want answers. And one of his answers is that he hopes his Senators — including Democrat Dick Durbin, whom Schilling has criticized — will restore the funds.

“I don’t believe it’s dead,” he said. But when asked if he would fight for its survival if it returns, he said, “I’m going to take a good hard look at it.”

Ironically, Schilling said two players from opposite sides of the aisle will make sure the rail comes across his desk again.

“Durbin and [Sen.] Mark Kirk aren’t going to let a lot of this stuff flow through, and then it’s going to come back and then we break it down on an individual basis,” he said. “You know, that’s just how the process works.”

Having abandoned highly popular, perennially bipartisan infrastructure initiatives, a lot of Republicans are facing similar conundrums.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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