GOP senators are fighting to block $87B in direct aid to their own states


The Republican fight against President Joe Biden's pandemic relief bill means cutting off a lot of money from Republican-led states.

Senate Republicans are working to defeat President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal, even though their own states and localities stand to receive almost $150 billion if it passes.

All 50 GOP senators voted last week against the budget resolution that will allow a vote on Biden's American Rescue Plan. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was "about liberal dreams, not urgent needs."

According to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the budget proposal includes $350 billion categorized as "State and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds." Of that, 60% would go to state governments and 40% to localities, distributed based on population and share of unemployed workers.

McConnell (R-KY) and his GOP majority in the previous Senate blocked a similar effort to provide much-needed state and local funding in last year's relief package. Only a small number of GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, acknowledged then that the relief was needed.

This time around, not one Republican broke with the party to support the budget resolution, and many GOP senators have dismissed the funding contained in the plan as unnecessary spending.

Maine's Susan Collins and nine of her fellow GOP senators proposed eliminating the entire $350 billion in state and local relief and passing a relief plan totaling $618 billion instead.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio complained last week, "Democrats want to jam through a $1.9T stimulus bill" and suggested that this "spending spree" might hurt the economy.

Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi claimed the plan was not "targeted to those who need it most" and that $1.9 trillion was too expensive.

Florida's Rick Scott, who leads the Senate GOP's campaign committee, has been especially vocal against the plan. In a statement issued in January, he called the state and local funding a "blue-state bailout."

"Biden wants to spend more than $350 billion to bailout wasteful states," he charged. "I've been clear — asking taxpayers to bailout failed politicians in liberal states like New York and Illinois and save them from their own bad decisions isn't fair to fiscally responsible states like Florida."

Based on data obtained by the American Independent Foundation and compiled by staff of the House Oversight Committee, Florida would receive an estimated $10.3 billion in state relief under the bill — more than the $7.5 billion Illinois would receive. Florida localities would likely get another $6 billion in support, compared to Illinois' $5.7 billion.

The constituents of other Republican senators who voted to block the funds would also receive a large percentage of the funding.

In total, it is estimated that the 28 states represented by at least one GOP senator would receive $87.1 billion. Their local governments would get another $60.8 billion.

In total, Republicans are fighting against nearly $148 billion in relief for their own constituents.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.