Biden Touts 'Overwhelming' American Support for Relief Package, Despite No Republican Votes

President Joe Biden said the newly signed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan has "overwhelming" support among the American public, even though the legislation earned no Republican votes in the House or Senate.

The legislation is part of the new administration's efforts to combat the economic distress the American public is feeling amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Vaccination efforts are ramping up across the country, but most Americans have not yet received COVID-19 vaccination, though Biden announced earlier this week that all American adults will qualify to receive shots by May 1.

In the meantime, many businesses are still operating with restrictions in place to prevent further spread of the virus, which has hurt both business owners and workers. Last March, then-President Donald Trump signed the country's first virus-related economic relief package into law, which included one-time stimulus checks for qualifying Americans. The $1,400 stimulus checks included in the new American Rescue Plan will be the third such payments the government will issue in connection with pandemic relief.

Speaking Friday at a White House news conference in the Rose Garden, Biden commended Democratic leaders in the House and Senate for their efforts to move the bill through Congress quickly. The Democrat-controlled Senate passed the relief package in a party-line vote last Saturday. The House, which also has a Democratic majority, passed the bill earlier this week, also without Republican support. Biden signed the package into law on Thursday.

On Friday, Biden described the legislation as "historical" and "transformational," saying it "meets the moment."

"The bill was supported overwhelmingly by the American people—Democrats, independents and Republicans—and had a strong support of governors and mayors across the country. And both parties—red states and blue," the president said. "Over 430 mayors contacted me, many of them Republicans, supporting the bill."

Joe Biden American Rescue Plan
President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer behind him, speaks about the newly enacted American Rescue Plan on March 12. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Recent polling indicates a majority of Americans do support the relief package. According to a CNN poll published Wednesday, 61 percent of respondents said they were in favor of its passage. A recent Morning Consult poll found 75 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat supported the legislation, with about 59 percent of Republican respondents saying the same. Although a third of the respondents in a March 9 Pew Research Center poll said they thought the bill's $1.9 trillion price tag was too high, 70 percent said they supported its passage, with Republican support at about 41 percent.

Even so, many Republicans in Congress have been critical of the plan, with the party's leadership saying it spends too much in the wrong places.

"President Biden's spending bill is a classic example of big Democratic overreach in the name of COVID relief," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a Wednesday tweet. "It manages to spend only ~1% on vaccinations and less than 9% on the entire health fight. This is by far one of the worst pieces of legislation I've seen in the Senate."

The office of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy directed Newsweek to McCarthy's Thursday statement on the bill after it received Biden's signature.

"By signing the so-called American Rescue Plan, he imposed a $1.9 trillion new burden on American families that even liberal economists argue is not well targeted to meet our current needs," McCarthy's statement says. "This bill is costly, corrupt, and liberal. Even the Biden White House admits this, calling it the 'most progressive piece of legislation in history.'"

Newsweek reached out to McConnell's office for further comment and will update this story with any response.

This story has been updated with additional information and background and a statement by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.