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Rodney Davis' 'no' vote on infrastructure should come as no surprise

Rodney Davis
Ryan Denham
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis' 13th Congressional District includes parts of Bloomington-Normal.

Rep. Rodney Davis says he’s been clear: If infrastructure gets tangled up with social spending, he won’t support it.

The central Illinois congressman last week made good on that pledge when he joined all but 13 House Republicans in voting against the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

“There were some good things in that bill,” Davis said. “But the problem was you had the president and you had progressives who held this bill hostage.”

Davis has been a vocal opponent of tethering traditional infrastructure to Biden’s Build Back Better plan, a massive social spending package that includes provisions for things like childcare and education. Though Democrats hoped to bring both measures to the floor last week, lawmakers ended up voting only on the infrastructure bill.

But the damage had been done, according to Davis, who blamed Democrats for “inextricably” linking the two bills through their own negotiations.

“The vote that was able to pass last week was held only after Democrats, both progressives and moderates, linked these two bills and their support for each together,” he said.

Still, a vote for the infrastructure bill wouldn’t have compelled Davis to vote for any future measure. He acknowledged they weren’t linked “in any parliamentary sense.” But David said his opposition to the infrastructure package was fueled by factors other than its perceived connection to Build Back Better.

“I'm also not convinced that when you look at the five-year length of this bill, that is now law, that they've taken into consideration the billions of dollars that we invested in a bipartisan way as part of our pandemic relief bills,” said Davis, pointing to potential overlap with recent funding for transit and airport infrastructure. “We have invested in a bipartisan way in making sure that our infrastructure needs and demands have been met during COVID,” he said.

Help Ensure Lower Patient (HELP) Copays Act

Davis held up his recent measure to help lower out-of-pocket prescription drug costs as an example of bipartisan cooperation. Davis co-sponsored the bill with Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin of Virginia.

Davis said a goal of the legislation is to ensure that when coupons and vouchers are redeemed for prescriptions, they’re counted toward a patient’s deductible.

“This to me is a no-brainer,” he said. “Coupons at the store are accepted just like cash, and nobody charges you more when you walk out of that store, like many health insurance companies were doing in the past.”

Political future

Davis has said he intends to run for re-election in 2022, depending on the outcome of legislative redistricting. Since 2013, Davis has represented the 13th Congressional District, representing parts of Bloomington-Normal and portions of 14 counties in central and southwestern Illinois.

The new maps passed by Illinois Democrats would draw Davis into the 15th District. But Davis said when it comes to 2022, he’s not ready to make a decision.

“We’ll decide when the governor actually signs the new congressional map into law,” Davis said. “I’m not convinced that the Democrats aren’t going to possibly put another one out there.”

Davis has been critical of the governor after Pritzker campaigned on a so-called fair map platform.

“We’ll have to see what the political battlefield is in front of me once the governor signs these gerrymandered maps drawn by Democrats in Springfield,” he said.

Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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