Not a single Republican in either chamber of Congress voted for Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package
(Yahoo News) - Not a single Republican lawmaker in either chamber voted in favor of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic aid package over the past few weeks, reflecting their fierce opposition to an early Democratic legislative priority.
The House voted 220-211 to approve the relief legislation in mostly party-line vote on Wedensday. The legislation encountered a brick wall of GOP opposition as every House Republican voted against it. Only one Democrat defected - Rep. Jared Golden of Maine.
Republicans blasted the plan as a partisan wishlist replete with untargeted spending. "This isn't a rescue bill; it isn't a relief bill; it is a laundry list of left-wing priorities that predate the pandemic and do not meet the needs of American families," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said during a floor speech Wednesday.
The bill's path through the House and Senate starkly illustrates the widening gulf between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Nearly a decade ago, President Barack Obama pushed through an $800 billion stimulus package aimed at stemming the freefall of the American economy after the financial crisis.
That measure drew some GOP support. Every House Republican voted against the bill in February 2009. However, it eventually garnered the support of three Republican senators in the upper chamber as Democrats at the time pressed to keep the bill's price tag in check over deficit concerns.
Many economists say that step stymied the economic recovery for several years, an experience that Demorats are determined to avoid now.
Still, right-leaning experts argue Democrats cut out Republicans from the drafting process. Biden rejected a $618 billion stimulus counteroffer put forward by a group of 10 Senate Republicans in February. That targeted aid plan ultimately went nowhere.
"They were completely ignored," Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the libertarian-leaning Manhattan Institute, said in an interview. "Democrats put out a $1.9 trillion bill barely moved an inch and there was no attempt at compromise."
He added: "Republicans are more concerned about drawing a line in the sand, and spending money more smartly in a recession."
Others say that Republicans are less willing to negotiate a middle ground with Democrats.
"It's the latest indication of how polarized the Republican Party has become, despite the fact it's overwhelmingly popular with the American people," Jim Manley, a former senior Democratic aide, told Insider. "They were prepared to vote no."
Democrats pushed through the legislation using a maneuver known as budget reconciliation. It allows bills to be approved in the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of crossing a 60-vote threshold.