House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been preemptively peeved for days that Republicans, every single one of whom voted against the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, would take credit for its popular provisions anyway.
“All of it is an opportunity for us to grow the economy by investing in the people for the people,” Pelosi said of the package on Tuesday. “And I might say for our Republican colleagues who — they say no to the vote, and they show up at the ribbon-cuttings or the presentations.”
She later added that some of them will go home and take credit for it in their districts, despite working to sink it.
These warnings turned out to be more prescient than perhaps even she would’ve guessed.
On Wednesday, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) touted a provision in the package — conveniently opting not to mention that he voted against it.
“Independent restaurant operators have won $28.6 billion worth of targeted relief,” he tweeted. “This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations and keep their employees on the payroll.”
He snapped when pressed by reporters that it was a “stupid question” to ask why he supported that provision but didn’t vote for the package. “I’m not gonna vote for $1.9 trillion just because it has a couple of good provisions,” he said.
Pelosi addressed the hypocrisy during her Thursday press briefing.
“Unfortunately, Republicans, as I say, vote no and take the dough,” she said. “You see already some of them claiming, ‘oh, this is a good thing,’ or ‘that’s a good thing.’ But they couldn’t give it a vote. Anyway, enough of them.”
It’s a sign of the deeper GOP messaging problem, and accounts for some of the difficulty they’ve had coalescing behind a coordinated attack. As the bill was coming down the pike, Republicans were all over the map: against it because it was too big or too expensive or too socialist or too “woke.”
Meanwhile, the American people — Republicans included — liked what they heard about the package. A Morning Consult poll published Wednesday showed that 75 percent of registered voters supported the bill.
Now, Republicans can’t run on it, or tout it as an accomplishment (well they can, but they risk getting Wickered).
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), based on his comments at his Thursday press briefing, is hoping that the package ends up being ineffective and thus, less of a boon to the Democrats who passed it.
“If there’s a correlation to it, I’d go back to January 28 2009,” McCarthy said. “There were some of the same people in the White House in that administration who thought a stimulus bill was really gonna turn the country around.”
He traced the declining popularity of that stimulus bill, predicting the same future for the COVID-19 relief one.
“They wrote the bill the exact same way,” he said of the COVID-19 package. “They reward their political friends instead of solving the problem.”
Back during the Great Recession, it was McCarthy’s party that forced the recovery act to be too small, and ensured that there were no sequel bills to boost funding further. That contributed to a slower, more painful recovery that Republicans then happily hung around former President Barack Obama’s neck.
The story is different this time. Democrats successfully got a $1.9 trillion relief package passed, largely ignoring Republicans’ complaints about the size and price tag, getting the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk without the topline coming down at all.
If there are problems with the aid package, it likely won’t be because it’s too small. McCarthy will have to hope for something else to go wrong.
The original version of this article incorrectly labeled Kevin McCarthy as House majority leader. He is the minority leader.