Speed Reads

American rescue plan

Senate Republicans call Biden's hugely popular COVID-19 rescue bill a Democratic 'wish list'

President Biden's American Rescue Plan cleared its final legislative hurdle Wednesday when the House approved the Senate's revised version 220-211. No Republicans voted for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in either chamber. Republican publicly decry the lack of bipartisanship behind the bill and argue that it's too expensive and expansive. Several top Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have taken to calling the legislation a "liberal wish list."

Inconveniently for Republicans, this Democratic "wish list" is remarkably popular (at least for now). In a Pew Research survey Tuesday that clocked the ARP at 70 percent favorability, 63 percent of lower-income Republicans approved of the bill. (Most wealthier Republicans gave it a thumbs-down.) A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday suggested an even warmer embrace.

The Late Show on Wednesday had some fun with this evident disconnect between congressional Republican votes and public support.

More substantively, Republicans are actually right: the ARP "is a liberal wish list," Paul Waldman argues at The Washington Post. "So what's wrong with that? Another word for 'wish list' is 'agenda.' And yes, Democrats have used the American Rescue Plan to advance a good deal of their agenda," just as Republicans do with legislation when they are in power, and "treating that as somehow unusual or inappropriate is positively bizarre."

Politically, the GOP's "liberal wish list" argument is "meant to activate party loyalty without getting into the ARP's details," Waldman proposes. "That's because not only is the bill as a whole extremely popular, its individual provisions are, too." Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), for example, praised some of the provisions Wednesday, four days after voting no on the bill.

"If you force them," Waldman writes, "Republicans can come up with an argument for why giving families thousands of dollars is a bad thing, but they know it's not going to be very persuasive." You can read Waldman's entire op-ed at The Washington Post.