Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is lambasting President Biden‘s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that Democrats passed through Congress along party-line votes as “a multitrillion-dollar Trojan horse.”
The longtime GOP senator from Kentucky and the most powerful Republican on Capitol Hill, speaking Thursday on the floor of the Senate hours before Biden speaks out on the coronavirus pandemic in the first primetime address of his presidency, also accused Democrats of wanting “to sprint in front of the parade and claim credit” for this year’s likely economic comeback.
McConnell’s comments – coming as Americans mark a year since the pandemic swept the nation, forcing millions to huddle in the their homes and leading to shutdowns that triggered the worst economic downturn in nearly nine decades – served to a degree as a prebuttal to Biden’s 8 p.m. ET speech.
The president was scheduled to sign the COVID relief package on Thursday afternoon.
“This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance,” Biden said Wednesday after the measure cleared its final legislative hurdle in the House.
A day later, McConnell had a very different description of the package.
“This wasn’t a bill to finish off the pandemic, it was a multitrillion-dollar Trojan horse full of bad old liberal ideas,” the minority leader argued. “President Biden’s own staff keep calling this legislation quote ‘the most progressive bill in American history.’ Hardly the commonsense bipartisanship that the president promised.”
McConnell spotlighted that the measure “only spent about 1% on vaccines and about 9% on the entire health fight. The rest of the tab went to things like this – a $350 billion bailout for state and local budgets unrelated to pandemic needs, with strings attached to stop states from cutting taxes on their own citizens down the road. Take the money, you don’t get to cut taxes. Massive federal school funding spread over several years without requiring quick reopening. Sweeping new government benefits with no work requirements whatsoever.”
“Agricultural assistance conditioned not on specific financial need but solely on the demographics of the farmer, which some liberal activists are celebrating as reparations,” McConnell spotlighted.
And he noted that only 20% of the bill went toward $1,400 checks for Americans.
McConnell stressed that the health and economic recoveries were already underway by the time Biden was inaugurated.
“For weeks, every indicator has suggested our economy poised to come roaring back, with more job openings for Americans who need work. None of these trends began on Jan. 20. President Biden and his Democratic government inherited a tide that had already begun to turn toward decisive victory,” McConnell noted. “In 2020, Congress passed five historic bipartisan bills to save our health system, protect our economic foundations, and fund Operation Warp Speed to find vaccines. Senate Republicans led the bipartisan CARES Act that got our country through the last year.”
In this image from video, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks before the final vote on the Senate version of the COVID-19 relief bill in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)
And he charged that “the American people already built a parade that has been marching toward victory. Democrats just want to sprint in front of the parade and claim credit.”
For the second time this week McConnell aimed to preemptively deny Democrats any credit for the likely economic rebound this year, as most Americans get the COVID vaccine and coronavirus restrictions are loosened.
The senator argued that “2021 is set to be an historic comeback year, not because of the far left legislation that was passed after the tide was already turned but because of the resilience of the American people.”