President Joe Biden on Thursday criticized Republican lawmakers who have touted parts of the Covid-19 economic relief law that benefit their constituents despite having voted against the law, saying: “Some people have no shame.”
No Republican in Congress voted for the American Rescue Plan when it passed earlier this year, but Biden noted several are now touting portions of the $1.9 trillion package that have gone toward their home districts.
“I’m not going to embarrass any one of them, but I have here a list of how back in their districts they’re bragging about the rescue plan,” Biden said during a speech in Cleveland, holding up a piece of paper with names of lawmakers and the parts of the law they have promoted.
Without saying any names out loud, the President said several Republicans have been taking credit for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which was recently established to help struggling restaurants and other businesses keep their doors open during the pandemic, and grants to community health care centers.
“I’m happy they know that it’s benefited their constituents — that’s OK with me. But if you’re going to try and take credit for what you’ve done, don’t get in the way of what we still need to do,” Biden said.
Biden’s list named Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California, Elise Stefanik of New York, Beth Van Duyne of Texas, Greg Pence of Indiana, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Troy Balderson of Ohio and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio as lawmakers who have touted the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
Reps. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Alex Mooney of West Virginia and Nicole Malliotakis of New York have touted the grants to community health centers in their districts, according to Biden’s list, and Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York and Andrew Garbarino of New York have touted the New York Subway and Long Island Railroad funding included in the law.
The names were visible in photos taken during the speech from the moment Biden held up the list toward the crowd.
The Covid-19 relief law also included direct payments to Americans worth up to $1,400 per person; a $300 federal boost to weekly jobless payments; $350 billion to states, local governments, territories and tribes; roughly $20 billion to state and local governments to help low-income households cover back rent; rent assistance and utility bills; beefed up tax credits for families and certain low-income workers for 2021; $125 billion to public K-12 schools to help students return to the classroom’ made federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies more generous; and $14 billion for researching, developing, distributing, administering and strengthening confidence in vaccines.
Democrats were able to pass the legislation without Republican support using the budget reconciliation process, which allows lawmakers to bypass the 60-vote threshold typically required for ending debate on the Senate floor and moving legislation forward. Instead only a simple majority is needed to end debate.
Democrats currently control exactly 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, and Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote in her capacity as Senate president. Since every Democrat voted for the measure in the Senate, it was enough votes to use the reconciliation process to pass the legislation.
The White House is now turning to Biden’s next legislative priorities: the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan.
Negotiations between the White House and Republican lawmakers have been intensifying in recent weeks over the infrastructure proposal, and Republicans on Thursday offered another counterproposal.
Biden had initially proposed a $2.25 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan that would rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and shift the country to more green energy. The White House later came down on that price tag to $1.7 trillion, and Republicans on Thursday countered with a $928 billion offer.