On Wednesday, Congress approved the 1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill without a single Republican vote in the House or the Senate. President Biden will sign off on the legislation Friday, and its slew of benefits—from $1,400 payments to billions of dollars allocated to vaccine distribution, rent relief, state and local aid, education, and more—will go into effect almost immediately.
Again, not one Republican voted for this legislation, despite a recent Pew poll showing that 70 percent of American adults support the covid package, a stat that includes 41 percent of “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.” It turns out people like legislation that puts money in their pockets, vaccines in their arms, and cash into their states. Go figure!
But Republican opposition lies largely in the fact that the bill is full of long term investments and improvements to the nation’s paltry safety net. For example, an expanded child tax credit, which will include monthly checks to parents that could help dramatically reduce child poverty if Congress decides to make the program permanent. For Republican lawmakers, lifting children out of poverty isn’t a worthwhile investment. Instead, it’s useless pork, a progressive laundry list that Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington, during an impassioned and bullshit laden speech on the House floor Wednesday, warned would “bankrupt” the United States.
Considering the fact that Texas has the highest number of children in poverty in the United States, perhaps someone like Arrington would be a little more invested in passing ambitious legislation that would help his most vulnerable constituents.
And Naturally, QAnon Queen Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene made a big stink about the bill as well. She even attempted to delay its passage, calling it part of the Democratic Party’s “Hate America Socialist agenda,” and blasted her Republican colleagues who refused to join her.
And then there’s this charming video that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy shared on his Twitter account, featuring Rep. Brad Wenstrup claiming that only nine percent of the bill is allocated toward “defeating the virus.”
This is grossly misleading. While around nine percent of the bill is dedicated to covid-19 vaccinations, testing, and protective gear, the impact of the pandemic doesn’t lie in the virus alone. It has impacted schools and their resources, employment, those facing eviction, childcare, businesses... the list goes on. Yes, sure, there are goodies in there that any party in power will throw into a hefty piece of legislation; allocating $20 million for new emergency Native language preservation might not end covid-19, but it’s the least the United States government can do considering, well, everything.
Acting as if these goodies have no added benefit to the average American—or, rather, hurt the average American—is absurd, and it’s an absurdity that the GOP’s own constituents aren’t even buying.
And maybe Republican lawmakers know it. A perusal of the social media accounts of various Republican hot shots shows surprisingly minimal chatter about the stimulus bill. Instead, they’ve moved on to more their latest culture war go-to’s: undocumented minors at the border, school closures, whatever garbage Bari Weiss wrote the other day, something about guns, and other assorted right-wing greatest hits.
Maybe, just maybe, carrying on and on about how much they’re opposed to the bill that’s about to put $1,400 in people’s pockets as early as next week isn’t the best move. Time to learn how to take an L.