- 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.”