Andy “Handgun” Harris remains at work fighting for the interests of the Eastern Shore. On Saturday, his contribution was to vote against the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. The bill passed the House, 219-212, with all Republicans and two Democrats voting “no.” But if Andy had his way, you could forget about those family stimulus checks of $1,400 for adults earning $75,000 or less a year, $1,400 payment for each dependent child, a $3,600 annual tax credit per child under age 6, and $3,000 per child up to age 17.
The bill also increases the weekly unemployment benefit from $300 to $400 per week through August 29, provides $130 billion in new funds for K-12 public schools, and $85 billion in new funds to fight the pandemic: Roughly $50 billion for virus testing and contact tracing, $19 billion to increase the size of the public health workforce, and $16 billion to fund vaccine distribution and supply chains. Dr. Harris apparently concluded that these investments are not necessary. I wonder if a second opinion from Dr. Fauci might differ.
If the ARPA sounds like a liberal wish list to you, maybe Harris is right. Here’s how Harris explains his vote:
From funding the Pelosi tunnel to the Schumer bridge, the Biden bailout is nothing but a pricey liberal wish list. If Democrats were serious about focusing on COVID-19, they would focus on spending the $1 trillion in currently unspent stimulus dollars, reopening schools, and following the science on vaccine policy. Unfortunately, future generations will be saddled with the Biden bailout’s big price tag.
Analyzing this statement, the first thing to notice is a reference to the “Pelosi tunnel.” It is $141 million of the $90 billion provided for infrastructure. Of the entire $1.9 trillion bill, it is 0.000074 of the total spending. Is it wasteful spending? It’s a subway tunnel in Pelosi’s district, described by critics as a “pet project” but supported by others in the area. There appears to be no evidence that Harris researched the proposed tunnel before condemning it. And even if the tunnel were wasteful spending, does that justify opposing the entire bill, which will provide millions in needed funds for Marylanders?
The bill also calls for funding for the “Schumer bridge,” which is a reference for the Seaway International Bridge. This is $1.5 million (not a typo) of the spending. Apparently, Andy “Handgun” Harris wasn’t aware that the funding request did not originate with Senator Schumer. It was made in 2020 by the Trump Department of Transportation, headed by Elaine Chao, spouse of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Curiously, Harris does not mention relief for small businesses, including SBA loan forgiveness. Has Dr. Harris concluded Maryland small businesses don’t need help? Are you aware of any small business that has not been hurt by the shut down?
He also is not talking about the $47 billion in the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund. I wonder if some of that money might come in handy for the Eastern Shore next time a major hurricane hits.
Final passage on the ARPA will hopefully occur soon. At this point, it is a safe bet that both our Senators and every House member, other than Harris will vote for it. Maryland voters should remember this vote. Harris is out of touch with the Eastern Shore. Issues other than the Second Amendment are important to us.
“Handgun” Harris is wrong to oppose this legislation.
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and domestic policy.