Washington Post: McCarthy Joins Ranks of Republicans Taking Heat For Voting to Block Rescue Plan

May 18, 2021
Blog
Voting No But Taking the Dough Is Not Working Out the Way He Hoped

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has joined a growing list of House Republicans taking heat over their votes to block the American Rescue Plan.

The Washington Post took a deep-dive into McCarthy’s district where elected officials, non-profit leaders, and community members “questioned McCarthy’s commitment to a district where they don’t see their needs reflected by his votes.”

Washington Post:

An unusually large share of children in McCarthy’s district stand to benefit from the expanded child tax credit included in the American Rescue Plan he opposed – more than 93 percent, the seventh-highest proportion in California, according to figures reviewed by The Post.

With high levels of poverty in the district, McCarthy’s constituents have also relied heavily on stimulus checks sent out under the American Rescue Plan and earlier coronavirus relief bills.

Even as neighboring Los Angeles County climbs out of the pandemic, vaccinations in Kern County are lagging, and needs remain high. Some of McCarthy’s constituents, as well as leaders of advocacy groups and state and local Democrats representing the area, voiced frustration over his stance against the federal assistance that they view as critical for their region’s recovery.

  • Other residents, however, questioned McCarthy’s commitment to a district where they don’t see their needs reflected by his votes.

“He’s for rich people … I’m a poor person, he’s not for me,” said Shirley Stewart, 79, a lifelong resident who said she used to work in the local fields picking cotton. “We need help, and who’s going to help us?”

This month, McCarthy joined a growing portion of the House Republican Conference in scrambling to take credit for a Rescue Plan widely supported by the American people.  The sentiment in McCarthy’s district makes fairly clear that their scrambling isn’t fooling anyone.

Key points from the Washington Post’s look at McCarthy’s failed attempts to vote no and take the dough

Washington Post: Biden’s aid programs help buttress McCarthy’s district despite GOP leader’s complaints about ‘socialist’ spending

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has spent months accusing President Biden of pushing excessive government spending, denouncing it as “socialism.” But a Washington Post analysis finds that McCarthy’s constituents are among those who have benefited most from the very programs he’s decried, with high poverty levels and a younger population creating acute needs for individual and family aid.
  • An unusually large share of children in McCarthy’s district stand to benefit from the expanded child tax credit included in the American Rescue Plan he opposed — more than 93 percent, the seventh-highest proportion in California, according to figures reviewed by The Post.
  • With high levels of poverty in the district, McCarthy’s constituents have also relied heavily on stimulus checks sent out under the American Rescue Plan and earlier coronavirus relief bills. Census Bureau income data indicates that a significantly higher-than-average share of families in McCarthy’s district were probably eligible to receive stimulus checks. In 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, the poverty rate of 15.6 percent in McCarthy’s district was well above California’s 11.8 percent rate and the national rate of 12.3 percent.
  • “I think it’s very unfortunate that McCarthy continues to reject these proposals that can help millions of people here in his backyard here in the Central Valley,” said state Assemblyman Rudy Salas, a Democrat whose district overlaps with McCarthy’s around Bakersfield. “I would plead to Congressman McCarthy to not forget his constituents, not forget California families, Central Valley families, when looking at these proposals.”
  • The figures highlight the tension between McCarthy’s rhetoric in Washington and the realities on the ground in the 23rd Congressional District, which sits at the southern end of California’s Central Valley. The district is home to large numbers of immigrant farmworkers, many of them undocumented, a population uniquely vulnerable to the health and economic forces of the pandemic. As the coronavirus swept through the area last year, food bank lines grew markedly as many essential workers faced difficult choices about whether to keep working under risky conditions or stay home to protect themselves and care for their children.
  • Even as neighboring Los Angeles County climbs out of the pandemic, vaccinations in Kern County are lagging, and needs remain high. Some of McCarthy’s constituents, as well as leaders of advocacy groups and state and local Democrats representing the area, voiced frustration over his stance against the federal assistance that they view as critical for their region’s recovery.
  • Yet McCarthy’s position as House GOP leader does not appear to have translated into dramatic economic changes for his district.
  • But even as California’s strong tech sector has softened the economic blow of the pandemic in other parts of the state, much of the Central Valley has remained mired in poverty, with immigrant farmworkers struggling to make ends meet, blighted buildings and tumbledown lots lining the highways into and out of Bakersfield, and boarded-up storefronts dotting a downtown business district that still retains some charm from the city’s past, including as a country music hub in the 1950s.
  • Economic inequality in Kern County has risen steadily for the past decade, with a notable increase from 2017 to 2019. In that time, Kern jumped 10 spots in the rankings and is now the 12th-most-unequal county of the 41 in California for which the Census Bureau has comparable data. Infrastructure needs are acute, but McCarthy opposes Biden’s proposed $2 trillion in infrastructure spending, objecting to proposed tax increases and arguing that much of the proposal does not qualify as infrastructure. Nonpartisan officials in his district, meanwhile, are making the case for larger investments.
  • The Post’s analysis of the proportion of children in McCarthy’s district who would benefit from the new expanded child tax credit — more than 93 percent — is based on population estimates from the Census Bureau and data released by the office of Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) and compiled by Co-Equal, a nonpartisan nonprofit group that seeks to help Congress conduct more rigorous oversight.
  • “The political position that he is in is of such high stakes, and at a time when the country is in such a profound cultural shift, I think he is in a real tough spot,” said Leticia Perez, a Democrat who serves on the nonpartisan Kern County Board of Supervisors. “What’s unfortunate is that toeing the party line does not give us a pathway forward as a changing population.”
  • Other residents, however, questioned McCarthy’s commitment to a district where they don’t see their needs reflected by his votes.
  • He’s for rich people … I’m a poor person, he’s not for me,” said Shirley Stewart, 79, a lifelong resident who said she used to work in the local fields picking cotton. “We need help, and who’s going to help us?”