Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told lawmakers in his home state, 'Spend it wisely, because hopefully this windfall doesn't come along again.'
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told constituents on Tuesday that they would be receiving billions of dollars in emergency pandemic relief funds — and that he voted against it.
In a speech to the Murray-Calloway Economic Development Corporation and the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce in Murray, Kentucky, McConnell (R-KY) acknowledged that the American Rescue Plan, which he and all Republicans in Congress voted against, had provided a massive infusion of cash to the state and local governments.
The plan, proposed by President Joe Biden and passed by the Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate congressional majorities without a single Republican vote, appropriated $1.9 trillion in relief to curb the spread of the coronavirus and address the economic damage the pandemic caused to the nation.
It provided $1,400 relief checks for most Americans, 2021 tax cuts for middle- and lower-income families, funds to help schools return to in-person instruction, and billions of dollars for cash-strapped state, local, territorial, and tribal governments.
Despite wide bipartisan support for the plan from the American public, McConnell and other GOP lawmakers dismissed it as a "blue state bailout," a term used by McConnell as he claimed funds would be used to prop up state and local economies mismanaged by Democratic leaders.
McConnell reminded his audience that his party was not responsible for the cash coming into Kentucky as he discussed the "windfall":
Well, it passed, on a straight party-line vote. Not a single member of my party voted for it. So you're gonna get a lot more money. I didn't vote for it, but you're gonna get a lot more money. Cities and counties in Kentucky will get close to seven or eight hundred million dollars.
If you add up the total amount that will come into our state: $4 billion. That's twice what we sent in last year.
So my advice to members of the legislature and to others, local officials, is: Spend it wisely, because hopefully this windfall doesn't come along again.
Much of the money contained in the bill went to Kentucky and other Republican-leaning states. A February estimate from the House Oversight and Reform Committee indicated that Americans represented by at least one Republican senator would receive $87 billion in direct aid to their states under the bill.
J.D Chaney, the executive director and CEO of the organization Kentucky League of Cities, told The American Independent Foundation at that time that without congressional action, cities "of all sizes face the very real threat of reducing city payroll and vital services."
Ashley Sims, then the president of AFSCME Local 3425, representing hundreds of Louisville's public library workers, said that her community was facing a dire financial situation. "I don't think it's really hyperbole to say 'If we don't get this money, we might not have a library system next year, or one that looks anything like what it did last year,'" she explained at the time. "I know when they're cutting firefighters and EMTs, there is no library system."
While McConnell was candid that he had opposed the $4 billion in funds Kentucky will receive thanks solely to congressional Democrats, not all of his colleagues have been.
More than a dozen House and Senate Republicans have claimed credit for or promoted programs funded by the legislation they voted against.
In March, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that those Republicans "vote no and take the dough."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.