WASHINGTON – Republicans lined up to oppose President Biden’s ambitious economic package on Wednesday, even before he was ready to detail it in a joint address to Congress, signaling a fierce partisan fight ahead over his efforts to increase government assistance to workers, students and families.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina has been asked to provide his party’s rebuttal to Mr Biden’s speech, highlighting the only black Republican senator who often relies heavily on his extraordinary biography to argue against measures of costly and far-reaching government aid like that of the president. to propose.
On Wednesday afternoon, some Republicans traveled to the Senate to offer their own rebuttals ahead of Mr Biden’s evening speech. They portrayed the president’s two-pronged infrastructure plan – one to strengthen the country’s roads and bridges and another to expand access to education and child care, for a full price of just over $ 4 trillion – as an unnecessary, costly and intrusive government overrun. Their reactions underscored the long chances facing Mr Biden’s stated goal of seeking compromise with Republicans on the package.
“Behind President Biden’s familiar face, it’s as if the most radical Washington Democrats have been handed the keys, and they’re trying to speed up as far as they can before American voters ask for the car,” he said. said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. , the Republican leader. “But it’s not too late. This White House can shake off its musings of a radical socialist legacy that will never happen in the United States.
Mr. Scott said he would present a “Optimistic” rebuttal to Mr. Biden’s address, outlining another way forward intended to “unite the nation” and underscore conservative values. And the senator plans to attribute the glut of vaccines that mitigated the coronavirus pandemic to the Trump administration, according to a snippet of remarks released before his speech.
But as Republicans seek to regain majorities in both the House and Senate in 2022, they are not expected to offer a full alternative to the president’s latest proposals. Instead, much of their strategy is likely to echo Mr. McConnell’s comments describing Mr. Biden as beholden to his party’s left flank.
This approach was exposed on Wednesday as the president was set to unveil his sweeping $ 1.8 trillion “Plan for American Families” to expand access to education and child care. . Republicans argued that such an ambitious extension of the social safety net was not necessary and warned it would hurt the economy as it would be paid for by reversing a vast collection of tax cuts they imposed in 2017 under President Donald J. Trump.
“It would make women rely on the federal government to organize their lives,” Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee told Fox Business on Wednesday, calling Biden’s proposal an “anti-family plan” that would lead to higher taxes. . “It takes away their ability to organize their family life the way they would like.”
While last week, Republicans presented their own, dramatically leaned response to Mr. Biden’s vast array of physical infrastructure – offering a $ 568 billion counter-proposal that Democrats deemed inadequate – they didn’t. no bill for education and childcare.
But some senators have introduced much narrower legislation intended to help families. Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Lee of Utah introduced a paid parental leave plan in 2019. And Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Josh Hawley of Missouri have both argued for the expansion of the child tax credit to provide all families except the richest families with regular monthly checks. .
However, these efforts have met with resistance from other Republicans, some of whom have resented any measure that could resemble “welfare.” They have not yet obtained the Imprimatur of the leaders of the party.
On Wednesday, Mr. Romney expressed his skepticism about the full cost of Mr. Biden’s package of economic proposals, calling it “massive spending.”
“Maybe if he was younger,” Mr. Romney told reporters, “I would say his dad has to take the credit card.”
Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina has spoken in the Senate to accuse Mr. Biden of pushing unnecessary “partisan politics.”
“When you think of infrastructure, you think of roads, you think of bridges, you think of broadband,” Tillis said. “You don’t think of human infrastructure, but that’s what’s on offer today. And it’s run on a partisan basis, without even trying to get a single Republican vote.
A quick counter-proposal is unlikely to come from the House either. Leading Republicans in this chamber selected members this week to begin drafting a wide range of laws on jobs and the economy, “the future of American freedoms” and other issues that should shape their agenda leading to the midterm elections.