President Joe Biden signed the Democrats' Covid relief package on March 11, but it was on March 10 when Republican Sen. Roger Wicker celebrated the American Rescue Plan's beneficial "targeted relief" for restaurants. The Mississippi senator neglected to mention the fact that he voted against the bill that provided the relief.
As regular readers know, he soon had plenty of company. GOP Reps. Madison Cawthorn and Alex Mooney took similar steps in March, touting funds for community health centers in their respective districts, overlooking the inconvenient detail that those health centers wouldn't have received the money if they'd had their way. New York's Nicole Malliotakis pointed to funding in the package as one of her "achievements," despite the fact that she voted against the ARP.
This is, evidently, still happening. Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of Congress' most right-wing members, issued a press release yesterday, touting federal investment in a local airport thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
"I am pleased to announce that the City of Kingman will receive this critical funding for economic relief related to operational costs for cleaning and sanitizing the Kingman Airport to combat the spread of COVID-19. This funding is essential to maintaining safe and reliable air service to the community," said Rep. Gosar.
The statement included a quote from the local mayor, thanking the congressman for his "continued support."
What the press statement neglected to mention is the inconvenient detail: Gosar opposed the American Rescue Plan. Under his preferred approach, the funding he now wants credit for wouldn't have passed, at least not when it did.
The broader significance matters. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned the American Rescue Plan as "one of the worst pieces of legislation I've seen pass here in the time I've been in the Senate." The GOP leader added that he and his party intended to spend the next several months telling the American people just what a terrible mistake the Democrats' Covid relief package was.
His House counterpart, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested the proposal would move the United States one step closer to becoming Venezuela. Gosar said the relief package was a "Trojan horse for socialism."
I remain mindful of the fact that lawmakers, especially when dealing with a massive, multifaceted piece of legislation, can like some provisions while opposing the larger whole (or oppose some elements while endorsing the larger whole). That's quite common. But Republicans shouldn't pretend that context is irrelevant: Either this bill is "one of the worst pieces of legislation" in a generation, or it's a bill that's going to do a lot of good for a lot of people. Either they're going to make the case against the bill, or they're going to sing the praises of parts of it.
Or to borrow Gosar's competing assertions, either it's a "Trojan horse for socialism," or it's a relief package that's providing "critical" and "essential" funding to local communities.
When Republicans try to push both lines — without shame or explanation — the party should expect their hypocrisy to generate headlines.