‘DUFUS’: As infrastructure bill drags on, lawmakers get punchy

Wednesday’s House markup of a multibillion-dollar surface transportation bill had been going for over five hours with no end in sight and tensions were running high.

Moving to sit just behind one of his Republican colleagues, Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), typed “RODNEY DAVIS = DUFUS” into a blank Word document, carefully angling the computer toward the camera and blowing out the font size before returning to his own seat.

It wasn’t Graves’ first dig of the day at Davis (R-Ill.), a humorous shot intended to lighten the mood during the arduous proceeding. The House Transportation Committee’s bill, H.R. 3684 (117), is a $547 billion, five-year bill that would fund highways, rail and transit, and stands as a rare bright spot for an official Washington that can’t even agree on what “infrastructure” is.

Earlier, during a debate on an amendment Davis offered related to environmental permitting, Graves commended Davis for “finally coming up with a good idea.”

And while referring to the C and D+ grades U.S. infrastructure gets in report cards released by groups like the American Society of Civil Engineers, Graves said, “While Rodney Davis’s parents would be ecstatic to see those types of grades, it’s unacceptable for other Americans to be living under those conditions.”

Davis said in a statement that the pair of second-term lawmakers are buddies.

“Just two good friends trying to bring some levity to a markup of a bill going nowhere,” he said.

Graves said Davis had it coming.

“If you know Rodney, the only way you can be his friend is if you can dish out at least 50 percent of what he does,” he said. “We were simply bringing some levity to an otherwise awful bill and awful process. If the bill were a person, I’d call it a dufus too.”

The markup is expected to continue into Thursday.

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