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TN Politics: Billions for Infrastructure Earmarked for State Without Republican Vote

The Tennessee Department of Transportation

When the I-40 bridge was closed for repairs last June, shutting down a major U.S. transportation artery, Tennessee's U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty called for more federal spending on highways and bridges. This week, they rejected the bill that will bring the needed billions, labeling the funding "socialism."

Political analyst Otis Sanford says the no vote from all of Tennessee's Republican Congressional contingent (Democrats Steve Cohen of Memphis and Jim Cooper of Nashville voted yes) is another example of how divided the political parties have become.

The major infrastructure bill comes as President Biden faces low opinion poll numbers, driven by record inflation and stagnancy in Washington. Some Democrats may even be disappointed by the lack of promised progressive changes.

But here in Tennessee, Republican politicians are moving to ever further to the extreme right, despite calls from businessesand legal experts to find more centrist ground on certain hot button issues, the pandemic in particular.

Gov. Bill Lee is expected to approve a slate of new laws passed during a special session of the legislature that gives Tennessee's Republican party more control over public health crises, as well as educational curriculums in certain school districts.