A number of Republican governors who have criticized the Democrats’ COVID-19 relief plan are now happily distributing the money in their states, touting the benefits and taking credit for themselves.
The funds come from the $ 1.9 trillion US bailout, or ARP, which every Republican member of Congress has opposed. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Recently admitted that Democrats deserve all the credit for the $ 4 billion paid into his state.
But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from trying to cash in on the legislation’s popularity. Several members of Congress have touted their state funding, even though they voted against the bill. And Republican governors from New Hampshire to Florida to Montana are now doing the same.
In February, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said he would have voted against the bailout had he been in the Senate. (Republicans are also recruiting Sununu to run against Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan, who voted for the bailout.)
“Yes. i would be a ‘no’ vote, because you have to do better, “he told a press conference.” You can’t just take an invoice and say, ‘Well, something is better than nothing.’
But last month, Sununu called it a “victory” when her administration announced it was using some of the ARP’s money to fund child care services in New Hampshire.
“Throughout this pandemic, the state has invested unprecedented levels of financial support into our child care system while implementing much-needed licensing flexibilities so that they can remain viable and supported during the pandemic. “He said in a statement. “These additional investments are a key priority for us as we emerge from the pandemic and look to the future a victory for children, families and educators. “
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also said in March that “i don’t think i would have»Voted for the ARP. He said that while he believed state and local governments needed help, he believed it set a “bad precedent” for passing legislation without Republicans backing.
A month later, Hogan’s office announced that residents of Maryland could save money on health insurance thanks to the bailout.
“This relief will help reduce the costs that many families in Maryland would otherwise pay for coverage,” he said in a statement. “We are proud to offer these high-quality health insurance options, now with additional savings, to keep Marylanders safe and healthy, especially as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. “
Sununu and Hogan’s offices said there was no inconsistency.
“The governor is touting aspects of the ARP that are good for New Hampshire and criticizing aspects of the bill that are bad for the state,” Sununu spokesman Benjamin Vihstadt told HuffPost. “The governor has supported many aspects of the bill, including targeted funds for vaccine delivery and flexible dollars to states, and opposed other aspects, including the funding formula that unfairly harms in low unemployment states like New Hampshire. “
“If Congress had not done what it is doing and filled a COVID relief package with all kinds of independent partisan spending, it would have been much easier to support the final bill,” the spokesperson added. by Hogan, Michael Ricci. “For his part, Governor Hogan spent a year leading the charge for more relief for the states and reached a bipartisan agreement with the leaders of the General Assembly to initiate relief from the US bailout to a series of urgent priorities in a fiscally responsible manner. ”
Sununu and Hogan at least made it clear that the funds came from the ARP. Many Republican members of Congress who voted against the measure, then boasted funding did not do it.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a $ 101.5 billion budget last month, praising Republicans across the state for their fiscal responsibility.
“Part of the reason we’re here is because we’ve had good stewards in the legislature who spend prudently; and responsible, but also the fact that Florida has open schools, open businesses and people with the right to work, ”DeSantis said.
What has received much less credit is the over $ 10 billion in ARP funds sent to the state – funds DeSantis called “Washington at worst. “
DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw said Florida has so far received about half of the ARP funds, “which are distributed according to the needs of the state determined by the unemployment rate.”
“As for the benefits of ARP funding in Florida, this is only possible due to the fiscal health of our state,” she told HuffPost. “If Florida had the same budget deficits as many poorly managed foreclosure states, we wouldn’t have the same flexibility as today. “
Other governors who criticized the ARP have also used the money to help their states. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte called the ARP “fiscally irresponsible progressive wishlist“, but has since said the funds would help local areas invest in infrastructure, “increase access to quality child care for Montana families, protect Montana seniors, and provide home energy and water for low-income Montana residents.
“Governor Gianforte’s position is very simple,” Gianforte spokeswoman Brooke Stroyke said. “He thinks the federal government spending billions and billions of taxpayer dollars is fiscally irresponsible and ultimately a burden our children and grandchildren will bear.” That’s why the governor is looking to invest these dollars in responsible, long-term investments that will benefit our children and grandchildren by expanding access to reliable broadband, improving water and sewers, and stabilizing our economy. child care system.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said he didn’t like ARP because he was not bipartisan, but he used the funds for back up the national unemployment compensation fund, improve water quality, invest in pediatric health and help local governments.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds criticized the stimulus bill for being too expensive, but later said she planned to use some of the money for a marketing campaign to persuade people to move to Iowa.
The governors, of course, did not have a vote on the ARP. But many of them were strongly critical of the legislation, and Democrats plan to make that hypocrisy a major part of their message for the 2022 midterm election. While the political environment is still volatile, Democrats hope to challenge several of the GOP governors who took credit for the funds, including DeSantis.
“The US bailout is so popular that even the most extreme Republican governors want to take credit for it, ”said Sam Newton, spokesperson for the Democratic Governors Association. “Too bad for them, we won’t let voters forget how much they stood against this life-saving relief that allows people to return to work and grow the economy.”
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