“I need to ask my staff”: GOPer “cannot really remember” she voted against funding she bragged about

"Liar liar," Ex-senator Claire McCaskill said, expressing disbelief at how "phony" Maria Salazar's claim was

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published January 30, 2024 11:15AM (EST)

Member of the Congressional Hispanic Conference (CHC) Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on February 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Member of the Congressional Hispanic Conference (CHC) Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on February 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A Republican congresswoman on Sunday was called out for seeking credit for legislation that provided money to her district despite previously opposing those bills. 

Rep. Maria Salazar, R-Fla., was confronted about the posturing during an interview with CBS News Miami, when "Facing South Florida" host Jim DeFede questioned her presentation of a $650,000 check meant to support small businesses at a Florida International University ceremony last month, HuffPost reports

“You voted against the bill that gave the money that you then signed a check for and handed and had a photo op,” DeFede said. “The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, right?”

Salazar joined almost every other House Republican in voting against the $1.7 trillion government funding bill in 2022. She told DeFede, however, that she could not recall the vote.

“Right now, you have to give me more details,” she said. “But I do know that every time I have an opportunity to bring money to my constituents, I do so. I just did $400,000, but look—”

DeFede interrupted to confirm that she had voted against the CHIPS and Science Act, which, in part, authorized a slate of programs and activities of federal science agencies. 

“Listen, I— right now, I need to, I need to ask my staff,” Salazar said. “Why don’t we look at the $40 million that I have brought to this community. Aren’t you proud of me?”

DeFede pushed back, telling Salazar that the sum at times came from bills she had voted against. Salazar rejected the CHIPS and Science Act but had celebrated the South Florida Climate Resilience Tech Hub that the act created, DeFede noted. She also voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provided funding for a wide variety of infrastructure projects such as public transit, but lauded the "impressive facilities" at the Miami International Airport that the bill supported. 

“At the same time that you’re taking credit for the money that you bring back to the district, in Washington, you’re voting against these projects on party-line votes,” DeFede said.

Salazar said again that she couldn't remember those votes.

”Listen I, that was, I think, last cycle. I cannot really remember right now,” she said. “But just look at the Americas Act, which is what I’m—”

“So you don’t want to explain why you voted against things?” DeFede interjected.

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The Florida representative replied that she couldn't explain at that moment.

"I'm not trying be a politician, there's so many bills that I've introduced that I know that many of them—" she continued, before DeFede interrupted again to remind her that she voted against the bills.

“I understand. But it’s, it’s — OK," Salazar said. "Sometimes I vote and sometimes I don’t. But let’s look at the positive.”

Former Sen. Claire McCaskill, R-Mo., expressed disbelief at Salazar's spin. 

"First of all, liar, liar, pants on fire," McCaskill said during a Monday appearance on MSNBC flagged by Raw Story. "She totally remembers. And it's so obvious she remembers."

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McCaskill pointed to Salazar's body language during the exchange with DeFede. "I mean, this is just so damaging to a political candidate when they're this phony," McCaskill said.

The senator went on to call on Democrats in Salazar's district to further call out her "hypocrisy" and praise DeFede for holding the representative to account.

"You know what the Democrats down there in that area can do? They can get together in their local Democratic committee and gather enough money and put up some billboards and call this woman out for her hypocrisy, her phoniness, her willingness to look in the camera and lie to them," McCaskill said. 

"Lying has become part of the Republican Party, and it's so refreshing to see a journalist call them on it in real-time," she added.

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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