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Biden's relief plan is extremely popular — and the GOP arguments against it are increasingly desperate

February 26, 2021 in Blogs

By Lindsay Beyerstein

The House is expected to pass the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package Friday and the Senate will take up the bill in early March. Democrats are racing to send a bill to Joe Biden’s desk before extended unemployment benefits run out in mid-March.

So far, not a single Congressional Republican has signaled support for the COVID stimulus. The Biden administration is fully prepared to see passage of the massive relief package with no GOP support. And why not? Nearly 80 percent of Americans support Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, including 60 percent of Republicans.

As usual, Congressional Republicans are more interested in fighting symbolic culture-war battles than in crafting meaningful relief policy for suffering Americans.

GOP legislators have taken every opportunity to introduce performative anti-choice bills and amendments aimed at COVID relief. These measures have little chance of success in the Democrat-controlled Congress, but they burnish a legislator’s anti-choice cred, which in the 2021 Republican Party, is really what matters.

Republicans Sen. Roger Marshall and Rep. Brian Babin introduced companion bills designed to expand the Hyde Amendment to forbid any COVID relief funds from being spent on abortion. Hyde bans the use of federal funds for most abortions.

Sen. Ben Sasse tried unsuccessfully to insert a “born alive” amendment into the budget resolution that serves as the vehicle for COVID relief. Sasse’s amendment would have required doctors to offer medical care to babies born following failed abortion attempts, which is … exactly what current law requires. Nevertheless, Sasse felt this was a good use of legislative time in a crisis. I hope he enjoys the talk-show invites.

Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted that the American Rescue Plan would allocate $414 billion for elective abortions or abortion-covering insurance. That is a jaw-dropping estimate—$414 billion is about 20 percent of the entire stimulus. Boebert’s spokesman said that she meant that without Hyde Amendment language in the American Rescue Plan, $414 billion dollars of stimulus money could potentially be spent on abortion. He declined to further explain how Boebert arrived at the $414 billion number.

Suffice it to say, the word “could potentially” is doing a lot of work here.

The stimulus sets aside $414 billion for direct payments to individuals (the much-anticipated $1,400 checks) and $163 billion for extended unemployment insurance benefits. …read more


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