Toeing of party line outweighs deliverables for constituents for many of today’s


DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Davenport’s 81-year-old Centennial Bridge across the Mississippi River creaks under the weight of tens of thousands of cars and trucks every day. Rust shows through its chipped silver paint, exposing the steel that needs replacing.

This city’s aging landmark is among more than 1,000 structurally deficient bridges in the area. The tally gives Iowa’s 2nd congressional district the dubious distinction of having the second most troubled bridges in the country.

So, it struck some Iowans as strange when the district’s Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks voted against a bill that would pour more than $100 million in federal money to repair and replace bridges into southwest Iowa. Miller-Meeks objected to majority Democrats’ handling of the bill, never mentioning its contents, a common refrain from the minority that overwhelmingly opposed it.

If anyone in Iowa was surprised that the Republican would oppose money for a glaring local priority, few in Washington were. Strategists and onetime party leaders note it’s become so common for lawmakers to prioritize their party’s line over district needs that it’s hardly mentioned.

“The old all-politics-are-local axiom has been significantly eclipsed by one that says all politics are national,” said Tom Kahn, a 33-year Capitol Hill staff veteran who teaches congressional strategy at American University.

Democrats are banking on voter backlash to this trend. As they continue to press, alongside a prioritized suite of voting-rights measures in the early days of 2022, for passage of a nearly $2 trillion social-safety-net package, following the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill, they’re hoping voters punish lawmakers like Miller-Meeks for opposing major new investments in health care, climate change mitigation and child care.

Related (May 2021): Kevin McCarthy, Elise Stefanik and even Madison Cawthorn are among Republican members of the House boasting of the Biden pandemic relief package’s benefits to constituents

But even vulnerable lawmakers like Miller-Meeks — who was elected in 2020 with a winning margin of just six votes — don’t appear worried about paying a price.

In New Mexico, Rep. Yvette Herrell, a GOP freshman, voted against the infrastructure bill and its $100 million per state for improving broadband internet access. A quarter of the homes in Herrell’s rural district lacked internet as of 2019.

In California’s Central Valley, Rep. David Valadao could have told families of 194,000 children he supported expanding a middle-to-lower-income child tax credit in the Biden administration’s sweeping spending bill. Valadao’s agricultural-heavy district has more children whose parents fit the requirements for the monthly $300 per child than that of any Republican targeted by Democrats.

Valadao voted against the bill, which passed the House before it stalled in the Senate when conservative Democrat Joe Manchin stunned many in his caucus by announcing last month that he would not support the bill as is.

Miller-Meeks’s office did not respond to requests to discuss her vote.

In her written statement issued publicly after the vote, she…



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