A Republican senator who, like every other Republican in Congress, voted against the coronavirus economic relief package that’s now on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk, is touting aspects of the bill and promoting them in a way that suggests he deserves credit for them.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) tweeted about aid to restaurants across the U.S. that is included in the bill mere hours after it was passed in the House of Representatives.
“Independent restaurant operators have won $28.6 billion worth of targeted relief. This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations and keep their employees on the payroll,” Wicker wrote.
The tweet raised more than a few eyebrows, as Wicker had voted against the bill’s passage within the Senate. The Republican lawmaker tried to defend criticisms of his tweet by suggesting that it was his work from “long, long before this legislation” that helped lead to an amendment in the bill for restaurateurs.
“One good provision in a $1.9 trillion bill doesn’t mean I have to vote for the whole thing,” Wicker told reporters on Wednesday after he was called out for his tweet.
But Wicker has been critical of the bill overall for failing to be 100 percent about tackling coronavirus itself. In a tweet on March 6, Wicker called the relief bill a “reckless spending spree” that had “little to do with ending the pandemic.”
Technically speaking, the amendment on restaurant aid that he now praises also has “little to do” with addressing the pandemic from a public health point of view.
Criticisms of the relief bill doing too little to address the virus directly has been a frequent talking point among Republican lawmakers. But as many fact checkers have pointed out, the bill isn’t primarily about doing that — rather, it’s about alleviating the many economic burdens that Americans across the country are feeling because of the pandemic.
Some Democrats have also noted that Wicker has been hesitant to support other plans for relief to Americans during the pandemic, including to restaurants.
In response to Wicker’s tweet, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) said that she had tried “for almost a year to secure aid” that restaurants needed, but that “Republican senators, including @SenatorWicker, rejected this critical aid.”
“Too many have closed & many more are suffering,” Dingell added. “Just happy we got them help today despite his objections.”
Americans overall are supportive of the coronavirus relief bill. In an Economist/YouGov poll published on Wednesday, only 31 percent of respondents said they opposed the economic package, with close to two-thirds (66 percent) stating that they were in support of the $1.9 trillion spending bill, which includes direct economic aid to most adults in the country and their children in the form of $1,400 checks and other kinds of relief.
Biden plans to sign the relief bill on Friday. Direct relief payments could be sent out as early as next week.
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