House

McCarthy constituents benefit from programs he’s slammed: Washington Post analysis

Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) constituents are among those who have benefited most from the American Rescue Plan and other coronavirus relief funds, despite the top GOP member’s criticism. 

An analysis of figures by The Washington Post published Tuesday found that residents of McCarthy’s congressional district, which includes the city of Bakersfield and a large potion of Kern County, Calif., has been one of the slowest areas in the state to recover from the economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Kern County’s unemployment rate was in the double digits as of March of this year, when the state of California as a whole had an unemployment rate in the single digits, according to the Post. 

McCarthy has pushed back against the expansion of unemployment benefits, and in March was among the Republicans who condemned the passage of $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief that he claimed was part of President Biden’s “socialist” agenda. 

But the Post found that McCarthy’s constituents have come to rely on the $1,400 stimulus payments included under the American Rescue Plan, as well as funding from earlier coronavirus relief bills. 

Additionally, more than 93 percent of children in McCarthy’s district will likely benefit from the expanded child tax credit included in the American Rescue Plan, according to population estimates released by the Census Bureau and data released by Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.) as well as a nonprofit group, Co-Equal. 

The Post reported that many of the families in McCarthy’s district are young, immigrant families as well. 

California state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D), whose district overlaps with McCarthy’s, told the Post, “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.” 

“I would plead to Congressman McCarthy to not forget his constituents, not forget California families, Central Valley families, when looking at these proposals,” he added. 

In a statement to the Post, McCarthy pushed back on the argument that he did not have his constituents’ best interest in mind when voting against the American Rescue Plan, or in opposing Biden’s infrastructure package and other spending proposals. 

“My constituents are my top priority, and with every vote I take, I vote my conscience and for my district,” McCarthy said. 

The GOP congressman, who has represented his district in Congress since 2007, said that he voted against Biden’s sweeping relief plan because it was “all about growing the size of government — not defeating the virus and restoring our way of life.”

In response to the Post’s analysis, a McCarthy spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill, “Leader McCarthy is proud to work every day for our community at home, in Washington, and with supporters across the country.” 

“To deliver more results for our community we need to win the majority,” the spokesperson added. “He wakes up every day in support of that mission. Our country and community are counting on House Republicans.” 

The spokesperson’s statement also argued that in 2019, “the Republican tax and regulatory relief helped create the lowest unemployment rate in Kern County in over a decade.” 

The spokesperson also said that the American Rescue Plan was “never about getting Americans back to work.” 

“Democrats built a welfare-without-work tax credit that does not encourage work, end the cycle of poverty, or strengthen the financial security of families,” McCarthy’s spokesperson said. 

McCarthy and other Republican lawmakers have faced pushback from Democrats in recent weeks for their promotion of components of the American Rescue Plan despite their votes against it. 

Earlier this month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement condemning McCarthy for promoting a restaurant aid fund that was included in the relief package. 

“Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the American Rescue Plan ‘socialist,’ claimed it would turn the U.S. into Venezuela, and convinced every member of his caucus to vote against it,” Pelosi wrote. “He even warned the American people ‘help is not on the way.’ Now he’s touting the American Rescue Plan’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund to brag about bringing home the bacon.” 

On Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched an ad campaign targeting McCarthy and six other House Republicans for touting elements of the rescue bill they had opposed. 

Republicans have defended their promotion of components of the relief bill, arguing that doing so does not mean they support everything included in the package.

–Updated 2:17 p.m.

Tags American Rescue Plan biden administration Biden infrastructure California Congress coronavirus relief House Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi stimulus checks The Washington Post

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