Democrats are unified behind a push for a new round of COVID relief spending even as Republicans coalesce in complete opposition.
The polling has consistently shown that a large majority of Americans, including many Republican voters, support the $1.9 trillion package that President Joe Biden has pushed for. Democrats feel they have the wind at their backs, as the budget reconciliation process will allow them to pass the bill on a party-line vote, and they recently won two Senate seats in Georgia by running explicitly on more relief funding.
So why aren’t the Republicans more afraid of a backlash if they oppose it?
That’s the big mystery hanging over Capitol Hill.
As the New York Times reported, Republicans are trying to message against the bill, calling it the “Payoff to Progressives Act.” They’re nitpicking at certain parts of the bill that they think they can make unpopular. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal skewering the proposed $350 billion for local and state governments, arguing that they don’t need this level of funding and that it will be spent wastefully.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise attacked the minimum wage part of the bill, Politico reported:
“As more people find out what’s in this bill — and what’s not in this bill — they get more furious,” said Scalise, referring to things like a $15 hourly minimum wage, billions of dollars for pension funds and money for public transit and art. “Sunshine is the best disinfectant for liberal policies.”
“What’s in it is not going to be popular,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “It’s bad politics for them. Because the narrative is that they’re liberal, they just spend money like there’s no tomorrow, that every time there’s a crisis they load it up with spending.”
On this front, the parties just seem to completely disagree about the facts. Politico described Democrats as being “agog that Republicans don’t see the downside in opposing a bill that polls better than most politicians do.”
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