Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., argued Sunday that the sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that Democrats muscled through Congress without any GOP support is an extension of the programs Republicans “were wildly enthusiastic about back when they were in charge of the White House and the Senate.”
“In fact, they were cheering some of these programs at the end of last year, like the $1400 stimulus payments,” Murphy told “Fox News Sunday,” referencing what he called the “argument from Republicans” that the relief package “is some progressive wish list.”
The measure includes a $1,400 check for many Americans and an extension of a $300 weekly unemployment aid supplement through Sept. 6, as well as a generous one-year expansion of the child tax credit. It also provides hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for state and local governments, vaccine distribution efforts and small businesses still reeling from the pandemic.
The legislation caps off a two-month sprint by Democrats to unleash another torrent of federal money intended to bolster the economy’s recovery from the pandemic nearly one year after the crisis began.
Democrats have touted the law as one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in history, pointing to some estimates that suggest it will slash poverty by a third this year and potentially cut child poverty in half, and have argued it’s needed to revive the virus-battered economy.
More than 20 million Americans are collecting some type of jobless aid, and there remain about 9.5 million fewer jobs than there were one year ago, before the crisis began.
But Republicans, none of whom voted for the bill, have blasted it as a wasteful spending frenzy that does more to address liberal wish list items than the dual health and economic crises.
“This wasn’t a bill to finish off the pandemic, it was a multitrillion-dollar Trojan horse full of bad old liberal ideas,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said speaking from Capitol Hill on Thursday. “President Biden’s own staff keep calling this legislation, ‘the most progressive bill in American history.’”
“This bill is wildly popular amongst the American public,” Murphy told host Chris Wallace on Sunday, claiming “75% of Americans support it because they know that this is the moment to go big.”
“Eighty percent of people don’t have enough money to pay their monthly bills and so that’s why you need to put an unprecedented amount of money into the hands of low and middle-income Americans,” he continued.
Murphy also brought up the “the crisis in America’s schools,” which he said “is going to last beyond this year.”
“The amount of catch up that kids are going to have to do, the amount of work we’re going to have to deal with the trauma that has been inflicted on kids who have been out of school for so long is significant,” he continued, noting that some of the money in the relief package “is going to be able to be spent in the next school year as well because we know we have a herculean endeavor ahead of us to try to make sure that kids and families are made whole.”
“But the bill is popular,” he said, “because it’s putting money right now into the hands of families who desperately need it.”
Fox News’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.