The whole thing reads a bit like the script of a bad daytime drama.
Mitch McConnell, playing the familiar role of lead villain, wanted to stop Democrats from passing a reconciliation bill that would invest in climate action, lower healthcare costs, and reduce the national deficit. None of these goals are very popular with GOP donors.
So Mitch took a hostage. That hostage was the CHIPS bill, a popular bipartisan bill designed to help US companies invest in bringing semiconductor chip manufacturing back to the US. The bill will create good jobs and address the serious national security problem tied to this manufacturing currently being controlled by competitors, like China. McConnell stalled it for months and promised to block CHIPS from passing in the Senate unless he got his way and Democrats agreed to kill action on climate, healthcare, and deficit reduction.
Earlier this week, the CHIPS bill passed the Senate. McConnell, confident that his hostage ploy had worked, offered no resistance to the bill’s passage.
Shortly after CHIPS passed in the Senate, President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a deal on the very reconciliation bill McConnell thought he had killed. For once, Mitch McConnell was not the one doing the double-crossing, but the one being double-crossed.
And Mitch got big mad about it.
Soon after, when the CHIPS bill – the hostage he let go – made it to the House for one final vote before going to Joe Biden’s desk for a signature, 184 House Republicans voted against it on orders from GOP leadership. Only 24 broke ranks and voted for the bill, which passed and is now on its way to The White House.
The move has been widely criticized as sheer pettiness, as a tantrum being thrown by Republican leaders at the expense of American working families.
Every Pennsylvania Republican but one cast votes against the CHIPS bill and the massive investment in American manufacturing that it will create. When choosing between good jobs for American workers, and Mitch McConnell’s revenge play, they did what they so often do: they put party over people.
What comes next are the inevitable and predictable press releases like those that followed the passing of the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure plan. After voting against these bills, GOP members of Congress again and again declared victory as the funds arrived and did good work in their districts.
As these new laws begin to have an impact on their communities, look for Pennsylvania Republicans once again to claim credit for all the things they tried over and over again to destroy.
The only remaining unknown factor is the Pennsylvania voters, and whether or not they will hold their representatives accountable at the polls.
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