Senate Republicans Slam ‘Porky, Partisan, Pricy’ COVID-19 Package

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
Font Size:

Senate Republicans criticized the coronavirus relief plan passed by the House in a near-party line vote in a Tuesday press conference.

“This is a wildly expensive proposal, largely unrelated to the problem,” Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell said of the American Rescue Plan Act. The $1.9 trillion relief package was passed in a late-night vote, with 219 Democrats voting in favor and 210 Republicans and two Democrats voting against.

The American Rescue Plan will be passed through budget reconciliation, a process that allows it to clear the Senate with only 50 votes, rather than the 60 it would need if it were subject to a filibuster. However, the reconciliation process prevents Democrats from including a $15 minimum wage in the bill.

“The economy is struggling to get back on its feet, but did not ever become as bad as the doomsday projections. So we think this package should have been negotiated on a bipartisan basis, like the last five bills were done. Instead, the new administration made a conscious decision to jam us, to make it one party only. To take advantage of the reconciliation process to try to achieve a whole lot of other items completely unrelated to COVID-19,” McConnell added.

The relief legislation passed on Feb. 27 would allow organizations that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood, to access bailout funds. Three House Republicans introduced an amendment to ban organizations that perform abortions from receiving bailout funds, but it did not pass. The bill also includes $350 billion in bailout money to states and localities. (RELATED: ‘Chock Full Of Spending Porn’: Sen. Kennedy Blasts ‘Left Of Lenin, Neo-Socialist’ COVID-19 Stimulus Bill)

“I think we might have a new name for this package that has come over. It’s a porky, partisan, pricy project package,” Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said during the same press conference. “We have millions upon millions of dollars for a subway system in California. We have millions upon millions of dollars for a bridge from New York to Canada. How is that helping us fight COVID?”

Earmarks, or “line items that are inserted into bills directing money towards a specific recipient,” were reintroduced by congressional Democrats in order to allow spending like the bridge and subway spending in the relief bill. Congressional Republicans had placed a temporary ban on the practice in 2011.