Biden pulls out list of Republicans he says are taking credit for rescue plan they opposed

‘Some people have no shame,’ Biden says of GOP lawmakers taking credit for grants helping their constituents

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 27 May 2021 22:03 BST
Biden pulls out list of Republicans he says are taking credit for rescue plan they voted against
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During a speech in Cleveland, President Joe Biden pulled out a list of Republican lawmakers he said was taking credit for the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9tn Covid relief bill they opposed.

“My Republican friends in Congress, not a single one of them voted for the rescue plan,” Mr Biden said.

“I’m not going to embarrass anyone but I have here a list,” he said to loud laughter from people in the room as he picked up a piece of paper.

“Back in their districts, they're bragging about the rescue plan. They touted the restaurant revitalisation fund, they touted... grants to community health care centres... I mean some people have no shame,” Mr Biden said.

The list of Republicans included:

  • Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker
  • House Minority Leader, California Rep Kevin McCarthy
  • House Conference Chair, New York Rep Elise Stefanik
  • Texas Rep Beth Van Duyne
  • Indiana Rep Greg Pence, brother of former Vice President Mike Pence
  • Washington Rep Jaime Herrera Beutler
  • Ohio Rep Troy Balderson
  • Ohio Rep Anthony Gonzales
  • North Carolina Rep Madison Cawthorn
  • West Virginia Rep Alex Mooney
  • New York Rep Lee Zeldin
  • New York Rep Andrew Garbarino
  • New York Rep Nicole Malliotakis

Ms Malliotakis said it pained her to vote against the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

But in the weeks that followed, the first-term lawmaker issued a news release celebrating more than $3.7m from the package that went to community health centres in her district as one of her “achievements”. She said she prided herself on “bringing federal funding to the district and back into the pockets of taxpayers”.

Every Republican in Congress voted against the sweeping pandemic relief bill. But since the early spring votes, Republicans from New York and Indiana to Texas and Washington state have promoted elements of the legislation they fought to defeat.

The Republicans’ favourite provisions represent a tiny sliver of the massive law, which sent $1,400 checks to millions of Americans, extended unemployment benefits until September, increased the child tax credit, offered housing assistance for millions of low-income Americans and expanded health care coverage.

Republicans tried to negotiate a smaller package, arguing that Biden’s plan was too expensive and not focused enough on the nation’s health and economic crises.

GOP lawmakers have promoted the rescue plan’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which devoted $28.6 billion to the struggling industry. Several Republicans have encouraged constituents to apply for funds.

One of them was recently elected Republican House Conference Chair Elise Stefanik.

“The Congresswoman is using her platform to inform her constituents of federal funds and resources available to them,” spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said. “She did not claim to support the bill in the tweet, and her constituents deserve to know about federal programs they can apply for regardless of how she votes.”

The office of Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker noted that while he voted against the full package, he led efforts to ensure the restaurant relief was included.

“Sen Wicker co-authored the amendment that successfully added the Restaurant provision to the reconciliation bill. Why wouldn’t he want to encourage participation?” Wicker spokesman Phillip Waller said.

“The American people — majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans — have long been firmly unified behind the American Rescue Plan,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said. “So it’s heartening to see Republicans in Congress reaching across the aisle to endorse it — even retroactively.”

Polling suggests the Biden stimulus is overwhelmingly popular. Two in 3 voters have consistently supported the $1.9 trillion package in recent polling, while individual elements such as the $1,400 direct payments to individuals are even more popular.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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