WASHINGTON – Republicans are working hard to convince voters to oppose President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, which has strong national support from both parties, even if he goes with only one democratic support from Congress moved.
Democrats in control of the house are preparing to approve the package by the end of next week. The Senate aims to soon drop its own party line before unemployment benefits run out in mid-March. On Friday the House Budgets Committee unveiled the Almost 600 pages of text for the proposal, which includes billions of dollars in unemployment benefits, small business and economic reviews.
Republican leaders, looking for a way to derail the proposal, made a final attempt on Friday to tarnish the package, calling it a “payout to progressives”. The bill, they said, is overspending and includes a liberal wish list of programs such as aid to state and local governments – which they refer to as a “blue state bailout”, despite Republican-controlled many states facing deficits – and increased benefits to the unemployed they argued would discourage people from looking for work.
These attacks followed weeks of diverse Republican objections to the package, including warnings that it would do little to the recovery and growth of the economy, that it would add to the federal budget deficit and potentially cause faster inflation, and that the Democrats would offend Mr . Biden’s demand for “unity” by proceeding without bipartisan consensus.
The arguments have so far not joined, partly because many of its core provisions are strongly coordinated – even among Republicans.
More than 7 in 10 Americans are now supporting Biden’s aid package, according to Mr Biden New survey by online research company SurveyMonkey for the New York Times. That includes the support of three quarters of independent voters, two in five Republicans, and almost all Democrats. General support for the bill is even greater than the vast majority of voters who said in January that they are in favor of a year-end economic aid bill signed by President Donald J. Trump.
While Mr Biden has encouraged Republican lawmakers to join his package, the Democrats move their bill through Congress through a parliamentary process that allows them to pass it with only Democratic votes.
“Critics say my plan is too big to cost $ 1.9 trillion. that’s too much, “said Biden at an event on Friday. “Let me ask you what would you cut me?”
House Republican leaders on Friday urged their ordinary members to vote against the plan, billing him as spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi of California’s Payoff to Progressives Act. They cited more than a dozen objections to the bill, including “a third round of fiscal reviews valued at more than $ 422 billion that will also include households that have suffered little or no financial losses during the pandemic” . Ms. Pelosi’s office shortly thereafter issued her own counter-argument, stating, “Americans need help. House Republicans don’t care.”
Republicans have also railed against the process the Democrats used to push the bill, citing dozens of legislative changes that Republicans offered on various committees that the Democrats rejected. Last week, in a letter to Democratic Committee leadership, top Republic Senators complained about plans to bypass Senate hearings on the House bill, calling it “outsourcing their own committee travel to the House”.
Republican pushback is made difficult by the ongoing economic troubles of the pandemic. Millions of Americans are still unemployed and the recovery is slowing. It is also hampered by the fact that many of the lawmakers who objected to Mr Biden’s proposals were in favor of similar provisions, including direct controls on individuals when Mr Trump was President.
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“They tried to pick out parts of it,” said Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, in an interview. “But I think overall you have to compare that to how well this is received across the country.”
Some Republican lawmakers and advisers recognize the challenge they face in trying to explain to voters why they object to the package, especially after reaching an agreement with the Democrats on several rounds of aid at the beginning of the crisis. Many of these negotiations were controversial and lasted for months; Mr Biden said he would not wait for Republicans to join his efforts, highlighting the urgency of the needs of business.
“We showed about five different bills we can create together,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia and one of the lawmakers who met privately with Mr. Biden to discuss both economic relief and infrastructure plans . “I think we have to contrast what’s in there that doesn’t make sense.”
While explaining their opposition to the electorate would be a challenge, supporting the law is not an option for most Republicans.
“The price ends up just so excessively high and contains too many strange things to get real support from the Republican Party.”
The Scattershot criticism is in contrast to the last time a president used the parliamentary move, known as budget balancing, to push forward an important proposal: the $ 1.5 trillion tax cut package, the 2017 Mr Trump and Republicans of Congress passed without democratic votes. Just before the first House hearing on the tax cuts, Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee planned to brand the bill as “tax fraud” benefiting the rich and powerful before Republicans could sell it as a blessing to the middle class.
Mr Trump’s tax cuts had an impact on the public election and gave little boost to Republican candidates in the subsequent 2018 midterm elections. Republicans have had similar successes in recent years, fueling the popularity of signature legislation among Democratic presidents, particularly President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Representative Donald S. Beyer Jr., Democrat of Virginia, recalled the warning he heard from his party leaders in 2017: “Republicans are good at talking in the headlines, and we are good at talking in the fine print.” The Democrats’ ability to choose a pithy message and stick with it in the tax debate is “one of the few times we’ve run against the guy”.
Many Republicans remain confident that their attacks will resonate in this debate. A senior Republican adviser said, on condition of anonymity, that considering the legislation this week, Members would continue to highlight provisions seen as long-standing liberal priorities, as well as the money left over from previous aid packages. Republicans also plan to question whether the new funding would meet promises to improve the economy and reopen schools.
“I think we have an obligation to ask questions,” said New York representative Tom Reed, one of the moderate Republicans who first spoke to White House officials to find a compromise. He predicted that once voters focused on individual provisions that demonstrated the size and scope of the package, it would piss off the overall proposal.
“It’s human nature, and I understand, but can we try to be much more productive?” Mr Reed added, reiterating the trial complaints that have already perished among Republicans in both chambers.
According to polls, this could be an uphill battle for Republicans as many provisions of the law are widespread. In the SurveyMonkey survey, 4 in 5 respondents said it was important that the utility bill include $ 1,400 direct checks, including nearly 7 in 10 Republicans. A similarly large group of respondents said it was important to include help to state and local governments, as well as money for vaccine use.
They split evenly on whether they are more concerned that the plan is too big, that the federal budget deficit continues to grow, or that it is too small, and therefore not able to stimulate economic growth quickly.
The broken debate over the plan in and outside Washington has also been largely overshadowed by the turmoil within the Republican Party itself, in which the specter of Mr Trump and his impeachment over the January 6 attack on the Capitol are great and threaten the efforts continue to focus on conservative efforts to make legislation overarching and ineffective. (Mr Trump just pounded Republicans this week for unwilling to accept direct payments.)
Given their slim majority in the House of Representatives and the stringent parameters that allow them to avoid filibuster in the Senate, Democrats can afford few, if any, defects in getting legislation to Mr Biden’s desk before unemployment benefits are paid in March expires.
Nicholas Fandos contributed to the coverage.