GOP campaign arm hits Democrats over what was kept out of the pandemic relief package

Amendments on energy, immigration were blocked in hearings last week

A sign notifies customers on Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available at the pharmacy of a Harris Teeter grocery store in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A sign notifies customers on Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available at the pharmacy of a Harris Teeter grocery store in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted February 16, 2021 at 5:28pm

House Republicans are preparing to attack Democrats for a flurry of votes taken in a handful of committees over the past  week as they rushed to send a $1.9 billion COVID package to President Joe Biden’s desk by mid-March. 

The first strike comes in an email from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House Republicans’ campaign arm, shared with CQ Roll Call before it was blasted to other media Tuesday. 

The missive calls out Democrats for a “completely partisan” process that involved rejecting all but two out of 200 Republican-proposed amendments as House committees prepared parts of a package that will be stitched together before a final vote on the House floor next week. 

It then lists 15 specific proposals Democrats rejected on “energy jobs, reopening schools and transparency in government,” previewing issues Republicans plan to highlight as they seek to regain the House majority in 2022. 

“The NRCC will ensure vulnerable Democrats have to answer for their votes preventing schools from opening, killing oil and gas jobs and whatever socialist agenda item they come up with next,” NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams said. 

The relief plan includes money for a national vaccination program, investments for schools to reopen, relief checks of $1,400 and expanded unemployment benefits. Democrats have said they want the process to be bipartisan and predicted that the final package will be popular, but the bill is being written using budget reconciliation rules designed to prevent a minority in the Senate from blocking action using the filibuster. 

Supporters point to recent polls from CBS News finding that 83 percent of Americans support Congress’ efforts to pass more COVID relief and from Navigator Research that a majority of Americans support each of the key provisions in the Biden plan.

Andrew Godinich, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Republicans in the committees “voted against relief checks for struggling families, against aid for small businesses, and against relief for first responders like cops and firefighters.” 

But Republicans have taken issue with the decision to move the package under reconciliation rules, and some of the amendments that were rejected could put Democrats in battleground districts on the defensive. 

Some of the GOP amendments focused on highly partisan issues unlikely to be accepted on the left, such as resuming construction of the wall on the Mexican border or reauthorizing construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which Biden took steps to halt in some of his first executive actions.

Another measure defeated on a party-line vote would have prioritized vaccines for citizens over undocumented residents. Democrats argued that would slow down the process of acquiring herd immunity. 

Democrats have indicated that they agree with the ideas behind some Republican amendments — like setting aside money for health care providers — but wanted to address them in a bipartisan way in the coming months.

Other amendments that Republicans offered were for policies that generally have bipartisan support, such as reopening schools and increasing vaccinations, but Democrats said their proposal already addressed many of the concerns Republicans brought up.