Republicans are touting benefits of $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill despite voting against it

Madison Cawthorn
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina) speaks on the House floor.

  • Republicans are touting benefits of the COVID-19 relief legislation they opposed in Congress.
  • Mitch McConnell said Republicans would have a “talk” with Americans about the bill’s issues.
  • Meanwhile, funding for healthcare and restaurants is being praised by some GOP members.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For months, Congressional Republicans have been unanimously opposed to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that was backed by President Joe Biden and signed into law in March.

The stimulus package, which included $1,400 direct stimulus payments for individuals, funding for state and local governments, $300 in federal unemployment aid through September, and an expansion of the child tax credit, among other measures, did not receive a single GOP vote of support in the House or Senate.

After the bill’s passage, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky slammed the legislation as “a classic example of big-government Democratic overreach in the name of Covid relief” and “one of the worst pieces of legislation” he’s seen in his 36 years in the Senate.

He also said the GOP would “talk repeatedly” to the American public about the true contents of the bill in the coming months.

However, some Republicans are now touting popular elements of the bill they railed against on Capitol Hill.

Conservative freshman GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina pointed to health funding in his district in a tweet last week, including nearly $2.5 million for the Appalachian Mountain Community Health Centers and $4.6 million for Western North Carolina Community Health Services that was part of the legislation.

“Happy to announce that NC-11 was awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services,” he wrote. “Proud to see tax-payer dollars returned to NC-11.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison took note of Hawthorn’s tweet and blasted the congressman and the GOP.

“Come’on man,” he wrote. “@RepCawthorn is trying to take credit for the grants HE VOTED AGAINST. Republicans have no shame.”

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

Cawthorn spokesman Micah Bock told NBC News in a statement last week that the congressman uses his social media account “to post information relevant to his constituents in NC-11.”

“Oftentimes this means providing relevant federal information on proposals that the congressman does not support,” he said. “There are portions of the American Rescue Plan that benefit NC-11, however, bills are not passed in portions, they are passed entirely or not at all, and this bill does significantly more harm than good.”

GOP Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi praised the billions in targeted funding for the restaurant industry that he championed – it was part the final package that he voted against.

“Independent restaurant operators have won $28.6 billion worth of targeted relief,” he tweeted after the bill passed. “This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations and keep their employees on the payroll.”

When asked by CNN’s Manu Raju why he didn’t support the full measure, Wicker said he didn’t have to accept the full measure and was critical of the questioning.

“Just because there’s one good provision in a $1.9 trillion bill, doesn’t mean I have to vote for it … I think it’s a stupid question. I’m not going to vote for $1.9 trillion just because it has a couple of good provisions in it.”

Congressional Republicans have currently found themselves boxed into a corner on the issue.

A Pew Research poll released shortly before the bill’s signing showed 70% of US adults backing the legislation, with only 28% of respondents opposed to the measure.

Even 41% of Republican or Republican-leaning respondents, a significant minority, backed the COVID-19 relief bill.

National GOP leaders have pledged to use the bill as a campaign attack against Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections, but nearly three dozen Republican mayors across the county, from David Holt of Oklahoma City to John Giles of Mesa, backed the legislation.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Nearly three dozen GOP mayors back Biden’s COVID-19 relief package

David Holt
Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.

  • Roughly 32 GOP mayors are backing Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
  • The support is a stark contrast to the bill’s opposition among congressional Republicans.
  • The House passed the bill on Saturday and it now heads to the Senate where resistance is anticipated.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

While President Joe Biden faces firm opposition to his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package from congressional Republicans, many elected GOP officials outside of Washington DC are singing a different tune.

Roughly 32 GOP mayors, representing cities from Oklahoma City and Arlington, Texas to Carmel, Indiana and Mesa, Arizona, are among 425 mayors who backed the relief bill in a letter through the US Conference of Mayors to Congress.

“American cities and our essential workers have been serving at the front lines of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for nearly a year,” the mayors wrote. “Despite immense fiscal pressure, your local government partners oversaw those efforts, while trying to maintain essential services and increase our internal capacity to provide support for residents and businesses who have been crippled by a tanking economy.”

Congressional Republicans have blasted the price tag of Biden’s bill, deriding the local economic relief as a “blue state bailout” for Democratic cities and states.

GOP Rep. Trent Kelly of Mississippi echoed such a sentiment at a House committee meeting this week.

“What I see is a bailout for poorly-run (cities and states), not money that is earmarked for those who have discovered losses based on COVID,” he said.

Some Republicans have also argued that the economic forecasts for many localities were above expected projections, eliminating the need for increased federal funds.

During a CNN segment yesterday, GOP mayors David Holt of Oklahoma City and John Giles of Mesa defended the need for additional aid.

“I don’t know a city where revenues have gone up,” Holt said. “That is news to me and I think that is not true. Whether your mayor is a Republican or a Democrat, revenues are down.”

He added: “The idea that this is a red state/blue state or red city/blue city thing is really a myth. Everybody is down. Everybody needs some support to get their services back to the level that people expect.”

When asked if Mesa was a “poorly-run city,” Giles rejected such a characterization.

“I’m very proud of the way that we’ve administered the COVID relief that we received a year ago,” he said. “There are a lot of people in Mesa that received food and utility assistance. Our first responders were funded. We were able to get kids back into school, to help with our school districts to have the remote learning devices they needed.”

He emphasized: “I would invite any scrutiny that partisans would like to apply to the way that we’ve administered the funds that we’ve received thus far.”

After the relief bill passed the House in a near party-line 219-212 vote yesterday, the group praised the outcome as it heads to the Senate.

“The fiscal relief passed today will help close deep budget holes and enable cities to be an engine of our recovery,” they wrote. “But the job is not done. Mayors urge the Senate to now act quickly on this package and preserve the desperately needed resources for cities of all sizes.”

Earlier this month, a group of GOP senators led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine sought to reduce the size of the relief package to roughly $600 billion, but Democrats proceeded with their bill through the reconciliation process, which would allow them to pass the bill through party-line votes.

If all 50 Democrats back the relief bill on the Senate floor in the face of united GOP opposition, then Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote will assure its passage.

Holt, for his part, said that he was singularly focused on the well-being of his city.

“I’m a one-issue voter,” he told USA Today. “If it’s good for cities, and especially for Oklahoma City, I’m going to be supportive. The $350 billion for cities and states is a no-brainer to me, regardless of your political party.”

Read the original article on Business Insider