In April 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis intensified, congressional Democrats proposed federal aid to state and local governments in order to prevent public-sector job losses. Republicans predictably balked, but they did so while embracing a hashtag-ready phrase.
GOP opposition derailed the aid for months, though earlier this year, with Democrats in the majority, President Biden's American Rescue Plan included robust state and local aid as part of a larger COVID relief initiative. At an event in Kentucky yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the federal funding in ways that raised a few eyebrows.
"Not a single member of my party voted for [American Rescue Plan]," McConnell said. "So, you're going to get a lot more money. I didn't vote for it. But you're going to get a lot more money. Cities and counties in Kentucky will get close to [$700 million] or $800 million. If you add up the total amount that will come into our state, $4 billion."
More than a few congressional Republicans who opposed the Democrats' COVID relief package have nevertheless tried to take credit for its investments, but McConnell's message in Kentucky was a little different.
Indeed, the Republican's pitch was oddly self-defeating: McConnell seemed to be congratulating his home state for the resources they'll soon benefit from, while simultaneously insisting that if it were up to him, the resources wouldn't exist.
McConnell didn't literally tell Kentucky voters they should thank Democrats for the relief money, but that was the apparent subtext.
It helps explain why Biden administration officials were eager to endorse the GOP senator's rhetoric yesterday.
But at the same time, McConnell also ended up discrediting his own nonsense about state aid representing a "blue-state bailout." The Republican leader who told the public last year to believe the funding wouldn't benefit red states is the same Republican leader who also told the public this year that Kentucky -- a state Biden lost by 26 points -- is benefiting greatly from the Democrats' policy.
No wonder Democrats seemed so pleased with McConnell's rhetoric.