Before the 220-211 vote to pass the Senate version of Biden's watered-down COVID-rescue package today, Georgia's drugged up QAnon crackpot, Marjorie Taylor Greene, tried one of her adjournment delaying tactics again, angering most members of the House, including 40 Republicans who crossed the aisle and voted against her-- and another 22 Republicans who just refused to vote. Not even fellow far right sociopath Matt Gaetz would back her up this time. Political hacks like Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Gym Jordan, Lee Zeldin and Andrew Garbarino did though, too scared to face the anger of the lunatic fringe. 9 California values-free politicians who do whatever McCarthy tells them to do-- David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Mike Garcia, Tom McClintock, Doug LaMalfa, Young Kim, Michelle Steel, Jay Obernolte-- also backed Taylor Greene. CA-08 progressive candidate Derek Marshall told me right after the vote that "It’s disappointing, though not surprising that Obernolte would back Marjorie Taylor Greene. He’s batting a 1,000 for falling in line with every crackpot vote from objecting to the certification to voting no for equality."
Because Greene has been abusing this right of members to call for roll calls on pointless adjournment motions, David Cicilline is proposing a rule that will only allow members of committees to propose a motion to adjourn. Republicans have been whining about "targeted" and this one is very targeted.
The underlying bill is incredibly popular-- with a somewhere between 60 and 70% approval. This Morning Consult poll for Politico shows a 75% approval-- including 59% of self-identified Republican voters! And yet, this morning not a single Republican voted for it-- just so the NRCC could have a senseless talking point that the bill wasn't bipartisan, as though that-- rather than policy-- should be a goal.
Trying to drum up discord, the NRCC sent out a press release yesterday quoting the two Blue Dogs who voted against the original bill. Kurt Schrader, the ultimate DINO, had asked-- before changing his vote from NAY to AYE-- "Why are we not allowed to represent our districts? There’s a ton of stuff in here that has nothing to do with COVID, nothing to deal with the emergency at hand. Some of it’s very good, you know, good stuff, but not at all related to COVID. You know, that’s, that’s being I think, disingenuous to the American people or the Oregonians." And Jared Golden, a former Susan Collins staffer pretending to be a Democrat but likely to switch parties soon, voted NAY and parroted NRCC talking points: "In reviewing the bill in its full scope, less than 20 percent of the total spending addresses core COVID challenges that are immediately pressing: funding for vaccine distribution and testing, and emergency federal unemployment programs… Unfortunately, the path congressional leaders have chosen goes far beyond these key provisions, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. After supporting $4 trillion in emergency COVID relief in 2020, I won’t support trillions more in funding that is poorly targeted or in many cases not necessary at this moment in time."
Despite incessant GOP and GOP-allied mass media whining about "bipartisan," the vast majority of Americans correctly state that Biden engaged in good faith efforts to win Republican support for the bill and 55% of those voters assess-- also correctly that the GOP is wedded to obstructionism and exercised a complete lack of good faith efforts to work with the president on the COVID-rescue plan.
Every Republican voted against it and Jared Golden (Blue Dog-ME) joined them, the only Democrat to do so. Right after the vote Pramila Jayapal informed her constituents in Seattle that "The American Rescue Plan is a bold relief package that meets the scale of this devastating crisis, puts money directly in people's pockets, and crushes the virus. At an unprecedented moment in which one in seven families don't have enough to eat and 40 million Americans struggle to stay in their homes, this relief package provides survival checks, expanded unemployment assistance, an increased child tax credit, investments in vaccine distribution, funding for nutrition and rental assistance, help for small businesses, and robust state and local funding. There is still more work to be done to help those in need, give workers a long-overdue raise, and lift people out of poverty but our aid package is a crucial down payment on the $3 to $4.5 trillion in stimulus funding necessary to fully recover from this crisis." She reiterated what the bill the GOP (and Golden) opposed will do:
Survival Checks: $1,400 direct payments per individual making less than $75,000 per year ($150,000 per year for joint filers) plus $1,400 per child, including mixed-status families
Expanded Unemployment Assistance: Extends the $300 per week of expanded unemployment assistance through September 6 while exempting up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal income taxes for households making less than $150,000.
Increased Child Tax Credit: Makes the Child Tax Credit fully refundable and increases its amount to $3,000 per child and $3,600 per child under the age of six; this will cut child poverty in half
COVID-19 Vaccinations: Over $20 billion to establish a National COVID-19 Vaccination Program that speeds up the distribution of vaccines while also providing $47.8 billion for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation
Robust State and Local Funding: More than $7.1 billion to communities across Washington state including more than $276 million in Washington’s Seventh Congressional District, nearly $437 million for King County and more than $159 million for Snohomish County, and more than $239 million for Seattle
Housing Assistance: Provides $27.5 billion for emergency rental assistance, $10 billion to help homeowners afford their mortgage, and $5 billion for utility assistance
Nutrition Assistance: The package provides nutrition assistance for 40 million Americans while investing in food security by extending SNAP maximum benefits by 15%, providing $1.1 billion in additional SNAP administrative funds, allocates $800 million in WIC, and invests in more than $5 billion in the Pandemic-EBT program
Funding for Schools and Childcare Facilities: Nearly $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen safely and $39 billion for Child Care Development Block Grants that help child care providers and make sure families can cover tuition; increases the amount of child and dependent care expenses that are eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to $8,000 for a qualifying individual and $16,000 for two or more individuals;
For Washington state, this aid includes $1.9 billion in K-12 funding, $655 million in higher education funding, $635 million in child care funding, and $13 million in head start funding
Small Business Grants: Increases PPP funding and eligibility by $7.25 billion, creates a restaurant revitalization fund with more than $28.6 billion, provides $15 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants that go to small businesses, and provides $10 billion to support up to $100 billion in small business financing through state, territorial, and tribal government programs — of this amount, $2.5 billion is dedicated for support to business enterprises owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including minority-owned businesses
Assistance for Homeless Youth: The legislation contains Representative Jayapal’s Feeding Homeless Youth During COVID-19 Act, which expands meal and snack assistance to young adults
Transit Assistance: Invests in transit systems by providing $30 billion to prevent, prepare, and respond to the continued threat of the pandemic
Funding for Broadband: Provides $7.1 billion to expand internet connectivity to students and communities
Writing for New York Magazine this morning, Jonathan Chait noted that it is the obstructionist Republicans, not Biden, taking a big risk on how they handled themselves in regard to this bill. "So far, wrote Chait, referencing the Pew polling data above, "every indication of public opinion is positive. Biden’s plan has not only won his party, but pulled over a large chunk of the opposition. A majority of lower-income Republicans support the measure. After four years in which observers marveled at Donald Trump’s appeal to working-class voters, it seems noteworthy that Biden has pulled them over to his side in such heavy numbers... The Republican decision to vote against Biden in unison, without building much of a case against his bill, seems like the worst of all possible worlds. They are setting themselves against a bill that enjoys sky-high levels of support from both economic experts and a large chunk of their own base. It’s possible this gambit somehow works out. But if anybody regrets their political choices in the early weeks of the administration, the odds are it won’t be Biden."
Special elections in swing districts in Maine and Orange County, California yesterday, both won by Democrats, bolster the idea that voters-- especially independents-- will translate this approval into votes for Democratic candidates.