Republican House candidates say government relief spending is wasteful — but their companies have benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program.
Across the country, Republican candidates for the House of Representatives, including some incumbents, are criticizing what they are calling excessive and "wasteful" government spending. But a review of financial records reveals that many of these same politicians directly benefited from pandemic relief funds from the federal government.
In response to business closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed and then-President Donald Trump signed into law in March 2020 the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a provision of which made available to businesses hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. Subsequent relief legislation increased funding for the program and other efforts to protect jobs.
Many of the Republican lawmakers and candidates who have been outspoken in their criticism of President Joe Biden and the Democratic congressional majority own or run businesses that received PPP federal relief funds.
April Becker is the Republican nominee to represent Nevada's 3rd Congressional District. She says on her campaign site, "Washington doesn't have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. The IRS is taking in record-breaking revenue year-over-year, but the government is spending more money than ever before. We need to rein in this out-of-control spending and make sure we are meeting the obligations people expect."
Rep. Ken Calvert
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), who is seeking reelection in California's 41st Congressional District, boasts endorsements from other members of his state's GOP House delegation on his campaign site. One he highlights is from Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA), who praised him for having "worked to rein in the reckless spending and inflation."
Juan Ciscomani is the GOP candidate for Arizona's 6th Congressional District. His campaign website says, "Washington keeps printing more money and making things worse. ... In Congress, Juan will fight for us by supporting a balanced budget and getting Washington spending under control."
Eli Crane, a Republican candidate for Arizona's 2nd Congressional District, posted on Instagram in December 2020 that he opposed a bipartisan pandemic relief compromise, specifically noting some line items he did not think should be included. He wrote: "27 Trillion in debt. This is the type of wreckless [sic] behavior that got us here in the first place. Coming in dead last are the American People. The collective sell out of America continues... Best part is, who do you think pays for this in the end? How long will the dollar hold it's [sic] value as we continue printing money we don't have?"
Mike Erickson, the Republican nominee to represent Oregon's 6th Congressional District, tweeted on April 11, "Poor leadership in DC has led to out-of-control government spending and sky-high inflation rates." He said, "Politicians nationally and in Oregon have made it their mission to put this country into more debt, causing inflation levels we have not seen in 40 years."
Pat Harrigan, the Republican nominee in North Carolina's 14th Congressional District, says on his campaign site: "The extreme base of the Democratic party and the policies of the Biden Administration are wrecking an economy that was roaring in years past. Their runaway spending, out of control inflation, crippling energy prices and high taxes are ruining lives right here in Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties. ... I will fight to curb inflation, cut wasteful spending, decrease taxes, and lower energy prices."
Bob Healey, the Republican nominee in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District, wrote in a May 20 Facebook post that while a baby formula shortage was hurting parents, "Liberals like Andy Kim and Joe Biden would like to throw money at this problem, just like they threw money at COVID."
Tom Kean Jr.
Tom Kean Jr., the son of former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, is the Republican nominee in New Jersey's 7th Congressional District and the current state Senate minority leader. He told Politico in November, "People are seeing that my opponent [Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski] is supporting trillions and trillions in new spending. They understand that's out of control, and the creation of these new areas of growth in government is way too expensive, unsustainable and the wrong direction to go."
Tom Patti, currently a San Joaquin County supervisor and the Republican candidate in California's 9th Congressional District, said during a meeting of the San Joaquin Board of Supervisors on Aug. 24, 2021, that COVID relief funding was causing employees not to return to their jobs: "I'm a business owner. I've heard from dozens and dozens and dozens of businesses, and this is sometimes weekly, when I talk to my customers — 'My employees won't come back.' That's what they keep saying, 'My employees won't come back. I've got work, I'm passing on it,' and I've got big companies saying, 'My employees won't come back.' So that's a concern."
Sam Peters, the Republican nominee in Nevada's 4th Congressional District, lists concerns about "Federal Spending" as the first issue on his campaign website: "The U.S. House of Representatives controls the Federal Government's purse, but when the 'standard' budgetary request seems to hover around $6 TRILLION, it appears those responsible for these vast sums are treating this money as if it were from a Monopoly Game. ... As a Member of Congress, I will fight for an immediate Balanced Budget Amendment, to end wasteful spending, and to stop funding organizations that do our country harm domestically and abroad."
Lisa Scheller, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is the Republican nominee in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District. The "Wasteful Spending" page on her campaign website says, "For too long Washington has wasted our money left and right, Lisa brought a strongly fiscally conservative approach to county government. Her reforms saved taxpayers millions of dollars, and she will bring the same approach to the federal government."
Rep. Michelle Steel
Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA), who is seeking reelection in California's 45th Congressional District, says on her campaign site, "I have pushed back against reckless spending policies that are driving nationwide inflation from Washington. In 2022, I'm running for reelection to continue this fight."
Derrick Van Orden
Derrick Van Order, the Republican candidate in Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District, issued a press statement in November 2021 that said the Democrats' Build Back Better plan "will kill jobs, raise every American's cost of living, and build on the already out of control inflation that is making this holiday season the most expensive we've seen."
"This Big Government Socialist Spending Bill is just further evidence that the slow walk to socialism has become a 100 yard sprint in Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi's America," Van Orden said. "Families can't buy gas and groceries on the same day, people are going to have trouble heating their homes this winter because of increasing costs, and the Washington Democrat plan to handle inflation is to spend trillions more. This is irresponsible governing at its peak, and it's why we need to flip the House and fire Pelosi in November."
The American Independent Foundation reached out to each campaign for comment. None had replied as of publication.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.