Georgia’s Lucy McBath is only Southern Democrat in a seat Trump carried to vote for $3 trillion spending bill
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Four of the five Southern Democrats trying to hold seats from U.S. House districts that President Donald Trump carried in 2016 have voted against a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package pushed through the House by Democratic leaders late Friday.
The lone Southern Democrat in a Trump seat who voted for the measure was U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who represents a district in Atlanta’s near northwest suburbs. She came under immediate fire from her leading GOP opponent for supporting “her San Francisco buddy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in the vote.
Voting no were U.S. Reps. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, and Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger, both from Virginia.
Five other Democrats who in 2018 flipped Republican-held districts that Trump didn’t carry in 2016 voted for the measure, including Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida, Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, and Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher of Texas.
The measure, dubbed as the HEROES Act by its sponsors, passed the House on a mostly party-line vote of 208-199. It would provide nearly $1 billion to state, local and tribal governments that have seen their tax revenues plunge during the coronavirus shutdown, along with $100 billion for farmers who have faced market dislocations.
The measure would also provide another round of $1,200 stimulus payments to Americans, including undocumented immigrants; extend supplemental federal unemployment payments until January; forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for every borrower; provide money for election security; and inject $25 billion into the U.S. Postal Service.
The $3 trillion price tag for the package — along with the provisions on student loan debt, election security, and including undocumented immigrants in stimulus payments — have drawn strong opposition from Republican leaders in the Senate, who have pronounced the plan dead on arrival.
By voting against the bill, the Southern Democrats in Trump districts were trying to avoid being tagged with support for a doomed, partisan spending plan that could be weaponized by their Republican opponents in the fall.
Cunningham, who represents the 1st District in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, called the bill “Washington politics at its worst.”
“While South Carolina families, small business owners, and workers are struggling, now is not the time to advance a partisan wish list or refuse to come to the negotiating table,” Cunningham said in a statement. “At a time when our country is in real trouble, we should not be spending precious time on one-sided solutions that aren’t going anywhere.
Horn, who represents the 5th District in and around Oklahoma City, called the measure “a messaging bill” that lacked bi-partisan support and was “a disservice to the American people, especially during a time of crisis.”
“This is not the time for partisan gamesmanship, this is the time to find common ground and deliver help where it is needed most,” Horn said in a statement. “In response to COVID-19, our relief efforts must be targeted, timely, and transparent. The HEROES Act does not meet those standards.”
Luria, who represents Virginia’s 2nd district in the Hampton Roads area, noted that the bill would double federal spending this year “and spending of this scale requires careful consideration and input from all members, not just one party.”
“Relief legislation must address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as pave the path to economic recovery,” Luria said in a statement. “Unfortunately, there are many elements of the bill that are unrelated to addressing Americans’ most immediate needs associated with COVID-19, which distract from addressing our most urgent priorities during this pandemic.”
Spanberger, who represents the 7th District in and around Richmond, said some of her Democratic colleagues “have decided to use this package as an opportunity to make political statements and propose a bill that goes far beyond pandemic relief and has no chance at becoming law, further delaying the help so many need.”
“We must come together to build a targeted, timely relief package that avoids partisan posturing and instead prioritizes combating our nationwide public health emergency, addressing catastrophic unemployment rates, and protecting the security of the next generation,” Spanberger said in a statement.
After the vote, McBath released a statement in which she did not offer a detailed explanation for her support of the bill, beyond saying that she was “fighting” for more funding for hospitals, first responders and the unemployed.
“This pandemic has caused grief for thousands, financial difficulty for millions, and drastic changes to the lives of every American,” she said. “Families across the country agree that more must be done to protect the health and financial well-being of our loved ones.”
But her leading Republican opponent, Karen Handel, charged that McBath “voted with the far left of her party to approve a $3 trillion partisan spending spree on out-of-touch, liberal priorities.”
“Nancy Pelosi has a true and loyal friend in Lucy McBath,” Handel said in a statement posted on Twitter. “When faced with backing the Speaker’s extreme agenda or representing the interests of [her district], McBath chooses her San Francisco buddy every time.”
McBath unseated Handel in 2018 in the 6th District, which Trump narrowly carried in 2016. Handel will face four other GOP candidates in the June 9 primary for the right to take on McBath again in November.
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