Pennsylvania Lawmakers Celebrate COVID Relief They Voted Against

Every Pennsylvania Republican voted against President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief law earlier this spring. But two of them have spent the months since then touting its benefits, despite rejecting the legislation previously.

The American Rescue Plan became law in March, enacted by the Democratic majorities in Congress without a single GOP vote in the House of Senate. Despite its broad popularity among voters, Republicans attacked the legislation as an unnecessary "blue state bailout."

Within weeks, several Republican lawmakers across the country began to highlight the importance of the law's programs — programs many of them once dismissed as unnecessary.

In addition to providing $1,400 relief checks for most Americans and expanded child tax credits for nearly all families with children, the COVID-19 relief package included a significant investment to help keep restaurants afloat, offering more than $28 billion in Small Business Administration grants through a Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The funding was intended to offset revenue losses related to the pandemic.

According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, many of the same GOP lawmakers who opposed the legislation, including those in the Keystone State, extolled that restaurant aid in the months that followed.

Pennsylvania Rep. Lloyd Smucker — who in March complained that the COVID relief legislation was "not a relief, stimulus, or rescue" — promoted the small business grants in a Facebook post on May 3. "Attention restaurateurs! The Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund opened today to support eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19," he wrote, linking to the agency's page.

The same day, Rep. Scott Perry published a similar post, writing, "ATTENTION RESTAURANTS -- A FREE webinar on how to make use of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will be held tomorrow, May 4, at 10 a.m., with experts from the Small Business Administration." He directed people to a local chamber of commerce's Q&A.

Back in March, in an op-ed in a local paper, Perry called the law a "monstrous" spending package that "wasn’t about relief at all," but rather "designed to advance Democrats' dangerous, far-left policies."

In addition to helping Pennsylvania's restaurants stay afloat, the package in fact provided more than $13.7 billion in direct support for the state and its cash-strapped local governments. It also provided $671 million in emergency rental assistance and direct payments to over 5.5 million Pennsylvania families.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this year mocked the House GOP for its hypocrisy on the landmark relief legislation, saying in April that "a number of them are trying to take credit for something they did not vote for — and that's not unusual: vote no, take the dough. That's what the Republicans do."

Back in 2009, Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) — who is now in his seventh term — used the same approach with President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He voted against that stimulus package, but told a local paper he was eager for his constituents to reap the benefits of the plan's tax cuts and new spending.

"We are working hard to see exactly how it will fit in and how the 5th District will benefit," he boasted, after previously dismissing the bill as reckless spending.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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