Let’s hope this is one of the hot trends of May 2021—the media is noticing how congressional Republicans are promoting funding from the American Rescue Plan despite having voted against the law. The Associated Press is on the story, with a bluntly accurate headline: "Republicans promote pandemic relief they voted against."
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis voted against the COVID-19 relief package, the AP reports, then described funding her district got from the law as one of her “achievements,” and touted “bringing federal funding to the district and back into the pockets of taxpayers.”
Malliotakis is one of a long list of Republicans who’ve gone from voting no to making absolutely sure their constituents knew that federal money was flowing into their districts—usually highlighting either the Restaurant Revitalization Fund or money for community health centers. Rep. Elise Stefanik, poised to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as the third-ranking House Republican, has been especially brazen, going from slamming the American Rescue Plan as “Pelosi’s partisan COVID-19 package” to bragging about Head Start funding as well as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently shredded Republican hypocrisy on this issue, noting how “All of a sudden they are deficit hawks when they were giving away money to wealthy people under President Trump,” but after yelling about the deficit when it was time to pass the stimulus package, “A number of them are trying to take credit for something they didn't vote for—that's not unusual. Vote no, take the dough—that's what the Republicans do.”
The Democratic National Committee is also focusing on this issue, the AP reports, with a digital advertising campaign on local news websites in Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, while putting up billboards in 20 states.
Will any of it stick? That depends in part on the media. The American Rescue Plan continues to be very popular, so it makes sense that Republicans are trying to associate themselves with it despite their opposition. Any time a Republican says anything good about the effects of the law, any media coverage of it needs to note the fact that if it had been up to that Republican, the law would not have passed. Just quoting a Republican saying, for instance, they’re “Happy to announce” federal money going to community health centers in their district—as Rep. Madison Cawthorn did—without correcting the false impression that they supported that funding coming to the district is aiding and abetting them in that falsehood.