Governors who attacked the American Rescue Plan will get $55 billion from it


Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is including her opposition in reelection messaging — but hasn't turned down her state's share of the money.

Iowa's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is highlighting her staunch opposition to the American Rescue Plan in her reelection campaign messaging as a way to attract potential supporters and obtain their contact information. But like other governors who have attacked President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan, she has not turned down the huge financial infusion her state will receive from it.

"I stood alongside 21 other Republican Governors to OPPOSE President Biden's plan to use YOUR taxpayer dollars to bail out blue states like CA, NY, and IL," Reynolds tweeted on Thursday. "Will you sign your name alongside side mine to tell Biden you OPPOSE his blue state bailout?"

The tweet links to a petition that contains required fields for email addresses and phone numbers and the disclaimers "Paid for by the Kim Reynolds for Iowa Committee" and "By providing your phone number, you are consenting to receive calls and texts, including automated calls and texts, to that number."

But the provision of the relief bill that she is attacking, which directs $350 billion in direct aid to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, stands to help her and her constituents in a big way.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee estimates that Reynolds will receive about $1.379 billion for her state government. Iowa's local governments will receive about $1.162 billion more, and the state will get another $153 million for capital projects. In total, Iowa will receive about $2.7 billion, not including the $1,400 stimulus checks and average 2021 federal tax breaks of $3,000 for most individuals.

A Reynolds spokesperson did not respond to multiple inquiries for comments about the funds. She has given no indication that she plans to refuse them.

According to data from the Rockefeller Institute of Government think tank, Iowa receives more from the federal government than it sends to Washington, D.C., meaning Iowans are not actually bailing out anyone.

Democratic leaders in the state panned Reynolds' hypocrisy on Thursday.

"Iowans expect steady leadership that will get us through this pandemic and help us recover stronger than ever: Kim Reynolds has failed that test," Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn said in an emailed statement on Thursday. "Even after the American Rescue Plan has been passed and Iowans are already seeing direct relief, she's continuing these absurd political games. This kind of divisiveness doesn't make us stronger, and it certainly doesn't help our schools or small businesses recover."

Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls told The American Independent Foundation, "Thank you President Biden and Congresswoman [Cindy] Axne for leading when Republican politicians like Kim Reynolds are trying to score political points instead of taking bold and decisive action to defeat the pandemic and heal our broken nation."

Reynolds' claim that "21 other Republican Governors" opposed the $1.9 trillion package is not accurate.

On Feb. 27, she joined 20 GOP governors and Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly in signing a letter organized by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster that criticized the formula by which the state funds would be allocated.

"Unlike all previous federal funding packages, the new stimulus proposal allocates aid based on a state's unemployed population rather than its actual population, which punishes states that took a measured approach to the pandemic and entered the crisis with healthy state budgets and strong economies," the letter reads. "A state's ability to keep businesses open and people employed should not be a penalizing factor when distributing funds. If Congress is going to provide aid to states, it should be on an equitable population basis."

The letter, which took no position on the overall merits of the relief plan, was also signed by the Republican governors of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.

States led by the 22 governors who signed the letter stand to receive a total of more than $55 billion. Adding in the funds for capital projects and local governments, the states will get more than $97 billion under the plan.

Not one of the governors has said they plan to refuse the aid.

The American Independent Foundation reached out to each of those governors to see if they planned to accept the funds.

A spokesperson for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in an email that he "plans to accept the funds and direct the resources where they are needed most."

Govs. Rick Scott of Florida, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Tate Reeves of Mississippi, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, and Bill Lee of Tennessee have already indicated that they plan to use every penny they receive.

Like Reynolds, Sununu attacked the $1.9 trillion package as a "bailout" and opposed its passage in a series of Feb. 27 tweets.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee also explicitly opposed the bill's passage, calling it "hyper-partisan" and "everything that's wrong with DC."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.