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Republican senator tries to take credit for virus relief bill he voted against

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) bragged that he got a provision into the relief bill that helps restaurants — even though he voted against the legislation.

By Emily Singer - March 11, 2021
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Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill that provides more aid to struggling Americans.

Yet already, at least one GOP lawmaker is trying to take credit for a piece of the legislation — even though he voted against the bill at the end of the day.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) bragged on Wednesday, shortly after the bill passed, that he helped get billions in relief to help restaurants that have had their businesses upended during the pandemic.

One bright spot from this week’s budget package is the $28.6 billion in targeted support for restaurants that have been hit hard by the pandemic,” Wicker tweeted, along with a video of himself praising the part of the bill that gives aid to restaurants. “[Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)] and my RESTAURANTS Act was the first amendment added to the package.”

However, just days earlier on March 6 — when the Senate passed the relief bill — Wicker slammed the legislation.

“President Biden and Congressional Democrats have billed this reckless spending spree as COVID-19 relief, but in reality it has little to do with ending the pandemic,” Wicker said in a statement explaining his vote against the bill. “The bill is full of unnecessary spending that will overheat the economy at a time when infections are dropping nationwide. It is no surprise that this bill has not earned a single Republican vote. This is no way to govern, and I strongly oppose this legislation.”

He went on to say in his statement that he opposed the bill because “less than 10 percent of the provisions in the legislation would address the immediate COVID crisis.”

That criticism does not line up with his praise of the bill’s billions in help for restaurants, which are not part of the “immediate COVID crisis.”

Wicker’s decision to praise a provision in the bill, even though he ultimately voted against it, is in contrast to his GOP colleagues, who are trying to vilify the legislation with scare tactics and outright lies about what it does.

For example, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said that the bill sends “checks to illegal immigrants.” That’s a lie, as only those with social security numbers will receive the $1,400 direct payments that the bill authorized.

Republicans are also calling the bill too expensive, saying it adds too much to the national debt.

The GOP’s attacks, however, are not resonating with voters, as polling shows the bill is overwhelmingly popular.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll published Wednesday found 75% of voters support the legislation — including 59% of Republicans. That’s virtually unchanged from a Politico/Morning Consult poll from one week earlier, that found 77% supported the bill, including an identical 59% of Republicans.

What’s more, voters do not agree that the bill was too expensive, with the Politico/Morning Consult survey from Wednesday showing that just 21% of voters say the bill “offers too much support.”

Democrats, for their part, are planning to hammer Republicans for voting against the bill — and are already running ads against vulnerable GOP lawmakers up for reelection in 2022 attacking them for opposing popular provisions in the legislation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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