Democrats are defending special interest provisions packed inside the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending package, arguing criticism of the legislation from Republicans is just “misinformation and partisan spin.”
Republicans on the House Budget Committee, who all voted against the package Monday, argued the bill is nothing more than “special interest pork and other liberal goodies.”
HOUSE REPUBLICANS LABEL COVID-19 SPENDING BILL ‘LEFT-WING WISH LIST’
Despite its $1.9 trillion price tag, Republicans say only 8% goes toward coronavirus-related spending, while billions are tacked on to help Democratic-allied activist groups, unions, and bailouts to state and local governments that imposed shutdowns on their communities and made irresponsible budgetary decisions related to pensions.
Democrats brushed off Republicans’ effort to highlight items in the bill that they say are not related to relief, claiming the spending package’s purpose is to give a boost to the economy, and Republicans only want to stop people from receiving help during the pandemic.
“We have also been subjected to a lot of misinformation and partisan spin. What’s true is this: The virus has already killed more than 500,000 Americans. Workers, families, small businesses, and communities across the country are counting on the relief in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to survive these crises, and they can’t afford to wait,” House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmouth, a Kentucky Democrat, said in a statement after the Democratic majority voted the package out of committee.
Republicans point to $135 million directed toward the National Endowment for the Arts, $86 billion dollars in union pension bailouts, over $100 million for a Silicon Valley transit expansion project, and $1.5 million for the Seaway International Bridge, an expanse intended to connect New York to Canada.
Additionally, $1 billion was tucked in the bill for “socially disadvantaged” farmers and similar groups. This would include an establishment of an equity commission as well as agricultural training to further “racial justice in farming.” The legislation also tacks on $50 million to issue “environmental justice” grants through the Environmental Protection Agency.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed GOP lawmakers’ problems with the Democrat’s package stem from the frustration of being helpless to stop its passage.
“Republicans have publicly complained about their inability to mount public opposition to the bipartisan American Rescue Plan’s push to crush the COVID-19 virus. Turning to vaccine skeptics is a reckless Republican effort to put partisanship over American health, safety, & jobs,” she said in a statement on Monday.
Other Democrats say the provisions Republicans are concerned about are likely to benefit the economy anyway.
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“I think many things being called non-COVID are actually directly related to COVID,” Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, told the Washington Examiner. “The best example is the expansion of Child Tax Credit.”
“I think all of these provisions are going to be helpful to deal with the crisis, which has had such an impact on families all across the country, and I think the provisions really are well considered,” Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, told the Washington Examiner.