Congressional Republicans are staunchly opposed to the COVID-19 relief package that is poised to pass the House early this afternoon. But they’re less unified as to why.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) came out swinging on Tuesday with perhaps the most disingenuous argument against it yet.
“Who hurts, gets hurt? Poor families,” Scott said on Fox News. “They’re not helping poor families with this, they’re hurting poor families.”
The package is directly targeted at low-income people and families, and researchers have already found that it will profoundly lower the poverty rate. Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy found that it would halve child poverty and reduce adult poverty by a quarter. A new study from the Urban Institute found that the package would reduce the overall poverty rate in 2021 by more than a third, specifically lowering the rate by 42 percent for Black people, 39 percent for Hispanic people and 34 percent for white people.
While Scott’s may be the most blatantly false attack, Republicans have been all over the map in their half-hearted attempts to characterize it as bad.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) took the floor Wednesday during the debate on the bill to bemoan it as “socialist,” a “laundry list of left-wing priorities.”
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who took the floor directly afterwards, dismissed the leader’s “scare tactics.”
“If Democrats had a potluck picnic, Republicans would call it socialism,” he quipped to laughter in the chamber.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who forced a brief procedural delay in the bill’s final vote Wednesday morning, based her opposition broadly on the package being a “massive woke progressive Democrat wishlist.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) took the more classic GOP approach, attacking the bill as wasteful spending.
“I think it’s important for the American people and our Democratic colleagues to recognize that when they’re going to propose spending money that’s not needed and that’s wasteful, and they lard up a piece of legislation, that we’re not going to just sit back and take it — that we’re going to fight back,” he told reporters last week.
Republicans’ knee-jerk but unfocused attacks on the bill belie its bipartisan popularity. A Morning Consult poll published Wednesday shows that 75 percent of registered voters — including 59 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats — support the package.
Democrats have been touting the “bipartisan” nature of the bill despite its lack of congressional Republican support, citing its popularity with Republican voters and some state-level GOP lawmakers across the country.
The package is expected to pass in the House, primarily if not entirely on the back of the Democratic majority, Wednesday afternoon.