President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their spouses are barnstorming the U.S. to promote the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which passed with zero Republican votes but enduring high public approval, even among certain Republican voters. "Conservatives are starting to ask: Did we botch this?" Politico reports. "The overwhelming sentiment within the Republican Party is that voters will turn on the $1.9 trillion bill over time. But that wait-and-see approach has baffled some GOP luminaries," who expected a cogent effort to attack the bill.
"We got beat on this one," one Senate GOP aide told Politico. Several Republicans blamed former President Donald Trump, directly or indirectly. A second Senate GOP aide said there was no oxygen to fight Biden's bill because "we were spending the early part of the year dealing with the insurrection and impeachment trial and then we jumped right into passage."
Attacks that focused on the lack of bipartisan votes ran into the broad bipartisan support among voters and state and local officials who welcomed the $350 billion in local relief. The "liberal wish list" charge never gained traction, and the accusation that many provisions had nothing to do with the pandemic didn't ring true to voters.
The scattered Republican attacks that Democrats are ballooning the deficit fell flat, in part because "Republicans lost credibility on that issue during the Trump years, especially the first couple years when we had the power to do something about it," said GOP consultant Brendan Steinhauser. "It was just, 'let's not even talk about spending or the debt or deficit or anything like that.'" And Republican focus on culture war issues and migrants crossing the border are distractions from the bill, not rebuttals.
Democrats "aren't sweating the politics and, frankly, never were," Politico reports. But 21 GOP state attorneys general on Tuesday threatened to take legal action against the Biden administration over a provision in the ARP designed to prevent states from using the $350 billion in local aid to offset new tax cuts, The Washington Post reports.
The GOP attorneys general asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a letter Tuesday to clarify that the states can proceed with some of their plans to cut taxes, saying if that isn't the case, the ARP "would represent the greatest invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic" and they will take "appropriate additional action."
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