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LaHood voted no on infrastructure bill. Labor unions aren't happy

Seth Perlman

Central Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood last week voted against the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill despite being a one time supporter of the legislation.

In a statement, LaHood, R-Dunlap, defended his vote, saying “A vote for the infrastructure bill is a vote that paves the way for an extreme reconciliation spending bill.” Referring to Biden’s Build Back Better plan, LaHood said “the infrastructure bill and reconciliation package are linked and cannot be viewed separately.”

But the two pieces of legislation are not linked, at least by any parliamentary standards. And LaHood ultimately voted against a package that would’ve pumped billions federal dollars into public works projects.

His vote came as a disappointment to labor unions like like the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA). Sean Stott, the director of governmental affairs for the Midwest region of LiUNA, said given LaHood’s history of supporting infrastructure, the union was hopeful he’d back the bill.

“But unfortunately, that was not the case,” Stott said.

LiUNA, one of the country’s largest labor unions, has been a longtime supporter of LaHood, but Stott said LaHood’s vote will “weigh heavily” in future elections. While no single vote typically determines who the union supports in an election, Stott said, “there’s no mistaking the fact that this bill, being so important and really at the root of what our members do, is going to be a very important factor in our decisions in the future.”

Central Illinois' other Republican congressman, Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville, also voted against the infrastructure bill. He labeled it "reckless, multi-trillion-dollar tax-and-spending legislation.”

Stott expressed frustration with both Democrats and Republicans for conflating the infrastructure bill with the Build Back Better plan. “The two issues were ultimately not connected,” said Stott, lamenting that partisan politics led to votes against a bill “that will build roads and rebuild locks and dams and bridges.”

“It definitely is taking a gamble with the livelihoods of working men and women,” said Mike Raikes, president of McLean County Building and Construction Trades. Raikes said LaHood failed to live up to the promises he’d made to constituents, choosing to vote against the bill rather than handing Democrats a victory.

Raikes said he hopes that’s something union members will remember come election time.

“I hope they realize that when it comes down to the nuts and bolts, he sticks along with the party lines instead of voting for working class families,” he said.

Sarah Nardi is a correspondent at WGLT. She rejoined the station in 2024.