Republicans are challenging transit funds by demanding it be used for something already covered in the COVID relief bill
House Republicans announced Friday that they will try to remove infrastructure funding from the $1.9 trillion relief bill, suggesting it is needed for "mental services for children." But the legislation already provides billions for mental health programs.
"Today, House Republicans are introducing a motion to shift the $140 million allocated to Nancy Pelosi’s subway to grants that would be used for mental services for children," tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. "Democrats will have to go on the record—which one will they support?"
President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan provides hundreds of billions in funding for public health. While many House Republicans have falsely claimed just 9% goes toward addressing the coronavirus pandemic, the real figure is much higher.
Like previous bipartisan relief legislation, this proposal includes significant funds to help mitigate the economic damages of the pandemic. Still, many congressional Republicans have attacked it as a Democratic "wish list" that includes items unrelated to curbing the virus.
McCarthy (R-CA) and many in his caucus have focused on a line item in the bill that provides money for a transit project in the San Francisco Bay area. Though the project is not actually in Pelosi's district, that has not stopped them from deriding it as "Speaker Pelosi’s $112 million Silicon Valley Subway."
In what McCarthy effectively admitted was a messaging vote designed to put his political opponents on the record, House Republicans are trying to frame it as a choice between transit and kids.
The bill already includes $4 billion for mental health programs, in addition to the general support for state, local, and territorial governments who provide many such services. It also provides $130 billion for schools to reopen safely — something McCarthy has previously said is vital to kids' mental health.
House and Senate Republicans have been so far unanimous in their opposition to the pandemic relief legislation, despite widespread popular support. A Politico/Morning Consult poll this week found 76% support for the relief plan — including 60% of Republican voters.
Infrastructure funding is not the only part of the bill Republicans have attacked as unrelated spending. They have also demanded a $200 million line item supporting libraries be excised from the bill — even as libraries provide coronavirus vaccination sites in some places and library internet access for many Americans to sign up for vaccination appointments in other communities.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.