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Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., alongside other Senate Republicans, speaks to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, about funding for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Aug. 4, 2021. (AP) Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., alongside other Senate Republicans, speaks to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, about funding for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Aug. 4, 2021. (AP)

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., alongside other Senate Republicans, speaks to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, about funding for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Aug. 4, 2021. (AP)

Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek February 2, 2022

If Your Time is short

  • Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, saying it cost too much.

  • Nonetheless, he said he was “proud” to have helped secure funding in the law for Everglades restoration.

  • Other lawmakers have also promoted the fruits of legislation they criticized and voted against.

UPDATED Feb. 3: The story was updated to add comment from Rep. Pressley's office.

After the Biden administration announced that the new bipartisan infrastructure law would provide $1.1 billion to protect and restore the Everglades in South Florida, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., visited the region to celebrate the investment.

"It was good to be with the Army Corps and our strong local leaders today to see the great progress being made at the Herbert Hoover Dike," he said after visiting the dike on Jan. 25. "I was the first governor to dedicate state funding to make the critical repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee and am proud that Senator Rubio and I were able to help secure an unprecedented $1 billion for Everglades restoration, the largest single amount ever allocated by the federal government."

It’s a political tradition for lawmakers to boast about their votes in Congress that help bring money home to their constituents.

But Scott didn’t vote for the law that’s funding the Everglades project. Neither did Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida colleague he shared the credit with.

That makes Scott part of another growing political tradition: lawmakers claiming credit for things made possible by legislation they opposed. It’s how some lawmakers navigate the awkward situation when they’ve voted against something that the public broadly supports, especially bills that funnel money to localities and create jobs and economic opportunity.

A prime example: In March 2021, the House voted on the final version of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, with its COVID-19 pandemic relief for individuals, businesses and local governments. Not a single Republican supported it. But just as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., predicted, several Republican lawmakers later promoted various programs and provisions of the legislation. 

More than a decade earlier, Republican lawmakers unanimously opposed President Barack Obama’s roughly $800 billion legislation to revive the economy after the 2008-09 financial crisis and recession. That didn’t stop many of them from touting the projects it helped fund. 

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., for example, was on hand when a stimulus grant of more than $2 million was presented to help build a fire station in his state. "Just because I voted against the stimulus doesn’t mean I shouldn’t recognize the merit achievement of an entity," he later told Politico.

What Scott said about the bill

The infrastructure bill enacted in November was one of the few major policy initiatives undertaken by the Biden administration that didn’t split Congress sharply along party lines. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has kept his GOP caucus united in opposition to almost the entire Democratic agenda, voted for the bill.

Republican support was critical to its passage. When it passed the Senate in August 2021, the bill had the support of all 48 Democrats, both independents and 19 Republicans, more than enough to remove the threat of a filibuster. In the House, the bill had the support of 215 Democrats and 13 Republicans; those 13 votes more than offset the six Democrats who voted against.

Just before the Senate vote, Scott said on Fox News that he supported infrastructure, but not the level of spending proposed in the bill. 

"We were promised all along that this thing would be fully paid for; we would not run any deficits," he said. "And the Congressional Budget Office came out and said, ‘No.’" 

The CBO estimated that the infrastructure bill would add about $256 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years. 

"I’m all for roads, bridges, airports and seaports," Scott said. "Let’s do that. … And let’s do it in a fiscally responsible manner. Let’s don’t go borrow more money."

When the Senate took up the bill, Scott and Rubio voted against it. If the vote had gone their way, the money for Everglades restoration would likely have died with the bill. 

Scott’s office did not respond to a request for comment about how he helped secure the project.

Several other lawmakers who voted no have also recently announced and promoted infrastructure funding to their home states and districts.

In some instances, legislators pointed to their efforts to shape the legislation they ended up opposing.

Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa tweeted that she helped secure more than $800 million in infrastructure spending on Iowa’s locks and dams, even though she voted against the bill. She argued that she did help secure the funding because she later sent a letter (along with other lawmakers) to the Army Corps of Engineers, requesting that projects in the upper Mississippi River area be prioritized.

Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana announced millions of dollars in infrastructure funding for waterway projects in South Louisiana — and also issued a statement addressing his vote against the bill: "While I opposed the infrastructure bill in its totality based on unwavering principle, there are certain elements within the bill that my office fully supports."

Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, one of the six Democrats who opposed the infrastructure bill, has also praised elements of the law in the months since.

In December 2021, when it was announced that Massachusetts airports would receive $48 million in federal grants because of the law, Pressley called the funding "welcome news" that would "create jobs and make our airport infrastructure more resilient." 

"It’s imperative that this money get disbursed as soon as possible and that we continue working to pass the Build Back Better Act to make additional and sorely needed investments in our workers, families and communities," she added. 

Pressley also later praised funding from the law for bridge projects. "We must get these federal dollars out the door as quickly as possible," she said. 

A spokesperson said Pressley had long supported infrastructure investments but voted no because the infrastructure bill and Build Back Better Act were not moving forward together, as had been originally planned.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration welcomes the support for the fruits of the bill, even if it comes after the fact.

"Hopefully, they’ll take the right vote to support their communities and job creation in the future," she said Jan. 25 in response to a reporter’s question about the trend. "Maybe it will make them think twice."

RELATED: Ashley Hinson took credit for Iowa locks and dams projects after opposing the projects in Congress

CORRECTION: We updated the story to correct the spelling of Marco Rubio's name.

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Our Sources

HuffPost, "Florida Sen. Rick Scott Touts Infrastructure Funding He Voted Against," Jan. 25, 2022

HuffPost, "More Republicans Take Credit For Infrastructure Funding They Voted Against," Jan. 20, 2022

Axios, "Scoop: GOP donors ‘furious,’" Nov. 19, 2021

NBC News "Republicans tout parts of infrastructure package after voting against the bill," Jan. 26, 2022

Associated Press, "Republicans promote pandemic relief they voted against," May 6, 2021, "FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Hits the Ground Running 60 Days into Infrastructure Implementation," Jan. 14, 2022

PolitiFact, "Obama criticizes Republicans who opposed stimulus, then claim credit for projects it funded," Feb. 5, 2010

CNBC, "​​Biden signs $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law, unlocking funds for transportation, broadband, utilities," Nov. 15, 2021

Axios, "The infrastructure Republicans," Nov. 6, 2021

CNBC, "Senate passes $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, sending key part of Biden’s economic agenda to the House," Aug. 10, 2021

United States House of Representatives Clerk, "Roll Call 369 | Bill Number: H. R. 3684," Nov. 5, 2021

United States Senate, "Roll Call Vote 117th Congress - 1st Session, On Passage of the Bill (H.R. 3684, As Amended)" Aug. 10, 2021

WPTV, "Sen. Rick Scott tours Herbert Hoover Dike as improvement project nears completion after 15 years," Jan. 25, 2022

MSNBC, "Rick Scott touts Everglades investments from bill he opposed," Jan. 26, 2022

NBC News, "Republicans trumpet elements of Covid-19 relief bill they voted against," March 31, 2021 2

PolitiFact, "​​Ashley Hinson took credit for Iowa locks and dams projects after opposing the projects in Congress," Jan. 21, 2022

Sen. Rick Scott’s website, "Sen. Rick Scott & Colleagues: Infrastructure Package Isn’t Paid For; We Won’t Support Increases to Federal Debt," Aug. 3, 2021

WLRN, "Florida Senators Voted Against Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. But What Would It Bring To The State?" Aug. 11, 2021

Fox Business, "Sen. Rick Scott slams national debt, says he is 'fed up' by reckless government spending," Aug. 8, 2021

Congressional Budget Office, "Senate Amendment 2137 to H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act," Aug. 5, 2021

Fox News, Aug. 7-10 Fox News Poll, Aug. 11, 2021 

Morning Consult and Politico, "National Tracking Poll, Sept. 24-27, 2021," Sept. 2021

YouTube, "1/25/22: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki," Jan. 25, 2022

Rep. Tony Gonzales’ website, "Congressman Tony Gonzales Announces $75 Million For Westside Creek Restoration Project," Jan. 24, 2022

CBS12, "Sen. Scott invested in infrastructure as gov., but voted no on recent bi-partisan bill," Nov. 8, 2021

Rep. Clay Higgins’ website, "Higgins Announces Army Corps Funding for South Louisiana Projects," Jan. 19, 2022

ABC News, "House Republicans tout infrastructure funding they voted against," Jan. 24, 2022

The Hill, "Pelosi says GOP will vote against COVID-19 relief and then take credit for it," March 9, 2021

PBS News Hour, "WATCH LIVE: Democrat Congress members hold conference ahead of final passage of American Rescue Plan," March 9, 2021

NBC News, "‘Some people have no shame’: Biden mocks Republicans’ embrace of bill they voted against," May 27, 2021

The Hill, "Senate Dems to hit Burr on stimulus check," Oct. 10, 2009

YouGov, "Yahoo! News COVID-19 Vaccination Survey - 20210326," accessed Jan. 31, 2022

Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s website, "Congressional Delegation Announces Over $48 Million in Airport Infrastructure Grants for Massachusetts," Dec. 17, 2021

Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s website, "Pressley, Mass. Lawmakers Applaud First Round of Bridge Formula Funding from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," Jan. 20, 2022

Conversation with spokesperson from Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s office, Feb. 3, 2022

New York Times, "Liberals Dig In Against Infrastructure Bill as Party Divisions Persist," Sept. 8, 2021

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