The U.S. House of Representatives early Saturday morning passed H.R. 1319, the $1.9 trillion so-called American Rescue Plan backed by President Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leadership.
The vote was 219-212; the spending bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.
All six House Republicans from Alabama voted against the legislation, while Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) backed the measure.
Rep. Jerry Carl (AL-01) explained his vote in a statement, commenting, “Today, I voted against the Democrats’ so-called COVID relief bill because it has almost nothing to do with actual COVID relief and is nothing more than a liberal wish list of special interest pork, including bailouts for cities and states who used lockdowns for political purposes.”
“COVID relief should be temporary, targeted, and related to COVID, but unfortunately, this bill largely ignores hardworking Americans who need relief,” he added. “I support targeted COVID relief going directly to get students back in the classroom, getting folks back to work, and getting vaccines to all who want them, but I cannot support Democrats’ efforts to push through irresponsible, big-government spending programs in the name of COVID relief.”
Aspects of the bill denounced by Republicans include:
- Borrowing and adding almost $2 trillion to America’s national debt;
- $50 million in taxpayer money to support abortions or organizations that support abortions;
- $1.5 million in pork for a bridge from New York to Canada;
- $112 million in pork for an underground subway in California;
- $123 billion for teacher union-related, non-COVID related expenses;
- $350 billion to bail out primarily blue state and local governments whose bad policies have severely damaged their own economies;
- $670 billion (over 1/3 of the bill) is spent in 2022 and beyond, long after the pandemic should be over.
Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) blasted H.R. 1319 in a Saturday statement, remarking, “This bill is nothing more than a debt junkie and Socialist ‘wish list’ of feel-good, short-sighted, do-nothing borrowing and spending that hastens America’s inevitable and dangerous insolvency and bankruptcy while doing little to address the actual COVID19 challenges American families face.”
“This bill spends many billions paying Americans not to work at a time when employers are struggling to find workers and Americans should be returning to the jobs that instill pride and self-sufficiency,” he continued. “Perhaps worse yet, Chuck Schumer gets $1.5 million in pork for a bridge from New York to Canada while Nancy Pelosi gets $112 million in pork for a subway from her city of San Francisco to Silicon Valley. These pet projects and pork spending have zero, nada, zilch to do with the COVID19 pandemic.”
The North Alabama congressman concluded, “I cannot in good conscience sacrifice America’s future on the altar of debt addiction that Washington glorifies. Nor will I, with my vote, increase America’s debt by $2 trillion without substantively addressing real COVID19 problems. Neither I nor the Tennessee Valley citizens I represent want any part of a debilitating national insolvency and bankruptcy that this COVID19 ‘stimulus’ con job hastens.”
❌$1.5 billion for Amtrak
❌$270 million for the National Endowment of the Arts & Humanities
❌$112 million for a subway to Silicon Valley
Sadly, these are just a few of the many wish list items in this spending bill. But to be clear, this has nothing to do with COVID “relief”.
— Robert Aderholt (@Robert_Aderholt) February 26, 2021
Ahead of the vote, Rep. Barry Moore (AL-02) on Friday advised why he would oppose the bill.
“This $2T package fails the American people by tacking on trillions to our national debt – all for Pelosi’s payouts for progressive states,” the freshman congressman from the Wiregrass outlined. “With only 9% of the funds going toward actual COVID relief, it’s abundantly clear that Democrats are just using this bill to pursue their own political priorities at the American people’s expense. We need to focus on delivering targeted and measured relief to get Americans back to work and kids back in schools. I will not support legislation full of frivolous blue state bailouts that comes at the expense of everyday Americans.”
Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06) also released a statement this past week; his office further pointed to a report from the Republican Policy Committee, which Palmer chairs, regarding the bill.
“This is not about COVID relief, but about the Democrat agenda,” Palmer stated. “It’s packed with partisan priorities, like bailouts for state governments that were poorly run even before the pandemic, stimulus checks for federal employees to stay home and not work, and funding for a bridge from New York to Canada. Republicans have consistently demonstrated the willingness to work across the aisle and pass serious COVID relief. If this current bill were about COVID relief, Democrats would not have rejected Republican amendments to provide $5 billion to assist with vaccinations in rural areas or to help small businesses with new health safety measures.”
“Billions of dollars from this bill would also not even be spent during this fiscal year, including much of the funding set aside for schools,” he said. “That means that the bill also discourages schools from reopening while children are still struggling with severe mental and physical health issues after not having been in their classrooms for a year.”
“This stimulus bill is also a repeat of the failed stimulus passed in 2009 under President Obama and then Vice President Biden,” Palmer concluded. “Unemployment rose and household income fell, and we can expect the same thing to happen again if this bill passes. Our economy is still in recovery mode, and this package would hinder, not help, that process.”
Similarly, Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03) made his thoughts on the bill clear in a recent statement.
“It’s a disgrace that this bill would even be brought to the House floor. Currently, $1 trillion in COVID-19 relief funding has yet to be spent,” he noted.
“This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing — extreme socialist initiatives falsely proposed as COVID relief. Less than nine percent of the funding in this bill is allocated towards public health spending,” Rogers continued. “The Biden Administration is so focused on taking credit for the Trump Administration’s ‘Project Warp Speed’ that they have lost sight of the mission — adequately distributing the Trump vaccine and stopping the spread of the virus. It’s pathetic and emblematic of what’s wrong with Washington.”
Rogers added, “The almost $2 trillion bill does little to help open K-12 schools, will discourage individuals from getting back to work and does hardly anything to help Americans. What it does do is fund abortions with taxpayer dollars, threaten business owners with a minimum wage hike and bail out Democrat-led states who can’t spend their tax dollars wisely. I am disappointed in my Democrat colleagues and call on Speaker Pelosi to get serious about helping Americans instead of pandering to the progressives in her party. Americans deserve better.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn