Senate GOP blocks added infrastructure investment

SENATE GOP BLOCKS ADDED INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT…. It got 58 votes, when proponents needed 60.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked Democrats from adding $25 billion for highways, mass transit, and water projects to President Barack Obama’s economic recovery program.

Already unhappy over the size of the measure, Republicans insisted additional infrastructure projects be paid for with cuts elsewhere in the bill. […]

“We can’t add to the size of this bill,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. “The amount is just inconceivable to most people.”

Of course, whether the amounts are “conceivable” or not isn’t really the issue, is it? The last federal budget was more than $3 trillion. That amount may be “inconceivable to most people,” but Congress still passed it, and the president still signed it. As standards go, this isn’t especially reliable.

Besides, for a senator like Inhofe, the size isn’t really the issue anyway. It’s not like he’s prepared to support an $885 billion package, but a $925 billion package is just beyond the pale. He and his like-minded colleagues are going to vote against the recovery plan anyway.

As for the vote itself, there were 58 senators in support of the infrastructure expansion, including two Republicans (Specter and Bond). There were 39 votes against, and 38 were Republicans. The exception was Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana, who voted with the GOP and acknowledged afterwards that she’s “a bit in the doghouse right now” with her Democratic colleagues over her opposition to the amendment.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.