Fox News anchor Chris Wallace took Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to task on Sunday over his opposition to the recently passed $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief package, asking the Republican lawmaker if he felt that the people in his state didn’t “need the money.”
The expansive stimulus bill, which President Joe Biden signed late last week into law, passed both the House and Senate with only Democratic support despite being wildly popular with the American public. Republicans have complained that the package—which includes direct $1400 payments to Americans, expanded unemployment assistance, and additional tax credits—is bloated and focused on more than just COVID-19 relief.
Interviewing Cassidy on Fox News Sunday, Wallace first addressed Republican claims that less than 10 percent of the spending package is actually related to coronavirus, an assertion that various fact-checkers have ruled to be false.
“What’s your basis for saying that?” Wallace pressed the Louisiana lawmaker.
Cassidy, for his part, pointed out that $130 billion in the bill is earmarked for education and schools, saying that is “clearly not COVID related” since much of that money won’t be spent this year. He also insisted that the $350 billion allocated to state and local governments suffering from budget shortfalls also has nothing to do with coronavirus relief.
“But let’s talk about other aspects of the package because, as you well know, the pandemic is not just a public health crisis, it’s also an economic crisis,” the Fox News Sunday moderator pushed back. “And according to the White House, stimulus payments will go to 91 percent of the adults in your state of Louisiana and 93 percent of the children and the child tax credit will go to the families of 1 million kids in Louisiana.”
“Senator, are you saying the people of your state don’t need that money?” Wallace pointedly asked Cassidy.
“First let me say Republicans offered an alternative which included that sort of money for the people who needed it, so yes, economic health was needed for families as well as for businesses,” the Republican senator responded. “We are on board with that.”
Cassidy then pivoted to a new GOP talking point about the bill, grousing that $1.9 billion in stimulus payments will end up going to inmates who have filed tax returns. Incarcerated prisoners also received relief checks in the previous two COVID-19 relief bills passed under former President Donald Trump, which Republicans largely voted for.
“But you would agree hundreds of billions of dollars go in economic stimulus to people and to businesses that have been hit hard by this pandemic,” the veteran Fox anchor reacted.
While the Louisiana senator did say he agreed with that, he also claimed that much of the money was unnecessary because the “economy is recovering” and is expected to grow by at least four percent this year.
Wallace, meanwhile, followed up by noting that Biden is going to travel the country in the coming weeks to sell the stimulus to the American public, pointing out that the president will likely portray Republicans as only caring about the rich.
“He and other Democrats are going to say look, back in 2017, Republicans and President Trump passed big tax cuts to benefit corporations and the wealthy. We the Democrats, he’s going to say, are taking care of working-class people,” the Fox host declared.