Rejection of Senate Transpo Bill Opens Rift Between GOP, Business Groups

The conservative wing of the Republican Party had their way yesterday in the House of Representatives, refusing to bring up for a vote the moderate, two-year transportation bill passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate, going instead with a 90-day extension, the 9th in a row.

Some construction interests are reducing their financial support for the Republican Party after this week's transportation bill fiasco, according to the New York Times. Photo: MSNBC

Now some of the groups that have traditionally been the party’s biggest supporters are crying foul. An article in yesterday’s New York Times featured several major Republican campaign donors who feel burned by a number of recent actions advanced by the party’s right wing — the most painful of which was the failure to pass a transportation bill.

“The majority of the work is supposed to go out in spring and get done by the fall,” Jeff Shoaf, a government relations official at Associated General Contractors, told the paper. The group donated $1 million to candidates in 2010, according to the report, and about 80 percent of that to Republicans. “Instead of spending 60 or 70 percent of their budgets, they’re going to cut back to 50 or 40 percent to make sure they have some cash in the fall,” he said.

Reporter Jonathan Weisman writes:

There could be real-world consequences to the conservative rebellion. The 90-day extension of the highway trust fund that House Republican leaders [passed yesterday] in lieu of a broad highway bill would keep existing projects moving for now. But business groups say few new government-funded infrastructure projects can get under way without longer-range certainty about federal backing.

Barney Keller, spokesman for the conservative political action committee the Club for Growth, was unapologetic. “Free market is not always the same as pro-business,” he told the Times.