Vice President Harris will travel to Jacksonville Monday for 'Help is Here' tour touting relief bill

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Antonio Fins, Palm Beach Post
·4 min read
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Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday to tout the administration's $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan, according to an administration source.

It will be her first visit since crisscrossing Florida last fall during the presidential campaign.

Details of next week's visit were not yet revealed. But Harris' stop in the Sunshine State is part of the administration's "Help is Here" tour to highlight what it says are the benefits of the American Rescue Plan President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11.

This week, both Biden and Harris have been on the road to praise the stimulus plan's assistance for American families. Biden spoke in Pennsylvania on Tuesday while Harris appeared in Las Vegas and Denver.

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Biden was scheduled to tout the stimulus plan in Atlanta on Friday. But in the wake of this week's mass shooting, he and Harris will travel to northern Georgia to meet with local officials and Asian-American community leaders about the violence.

The American Rescue Plan will bring an estimated $17 billion to Florida, according to estimates released last week after Biden signed the measure.

Pollsters and economists said they expected the Biden administration to pitch the plan in Florida, where they said polls and circumstances suggest voters here will welcome the $1,400 checks, expansion of the child care tax credit and other measures.

Meanwhile, Florida congressional Democrats have already been aggressively talking up the plan.

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., has held three press conferences and Zoom meetings in the past week to laud the legislation. Frankel has repeatedly said the measure is "the best piece of legislation I’ve ever had the privilege of voting for."

And the Democratic National Committee on Monday unveiled billboards in Miami and Tampa to remind voters that Florida's two U.S. senators, Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, opposed the measure.

"Voters in Tampa won’t be able to miss this message: help is here, and it’s because of President Biden, not Senators Rubio or Scott who opposed this bill and the relief it provides Floridians," said DNC Chair Jaime Harrison in a statement.

Both Scott and Rubio have doubled down on their opposition to the rescue plan.

Scott on Wednesday tweeted: "The Dems' wasteful spending is taking our debt to $30T & increasing inflation which hurts our poor families most. Yet, @POTUS & @federalreserve Chairman Powell have no plan of action. I'll never stop fighting to protect families from harmful policies."

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On the day Biden signed the bill into law, Rubio fired back on social media saying: "We could have had a $1400 checks & increased the child tax credit without sending stimulus checks to prisoners & illegal immigrants, spend $86 billion on an unrelated pension bailout & use your tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood & abortions."

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While Florida was not on the initial travel itinerary for Biden or Harris, Michael Binder, faculty director at the University of North Florida's Public Opinion Research Lab, said he was sure the White House would make a strong push to sell the COVID-19 relief bill in Florida ahead of next year's critical elections, with a U.S. Senate seat and the governor's mansion on the ballot.

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That Biden lost Florida by an "enormous margin" — 3.4% — was irrelevant, he said, especially after Democrats came come close to retaining a Senate seat and winning the governor's mansion here in 2018.

That theory is bolstered by a Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative survey released earlier this month that suggests Floridians would welcome the economic relief legislation.

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The poll showed that only 36% of respondents were "optimistic" about the country's economic fortunes in the next year, while 28% were pessimistic. And 31% said they expected it will take until later this year or well into 2022, if not longer, for their personal and household finances to recover.

Monica Escaleras, BEPI director in FAU's College of Business, said she believes the poll's results suggest the rescue plan's "targeted" assistance help would be "well received" in Florida.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Vice President Kamala Harris to visit Fla. Monday to tout COVID relief