White House Rejects Idea COVID Bill is Too Big, Polls Show Public Backing

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has rejected suggestions the COVID-19 relief bill is too big, as polling indicates public backing of the legislation.

President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion package on Thursday, after the bill was passed by Congress the day before.

Democrats pushed the bill through using reconciliation, which meant only a simple majority was needed to pass it in the Senate. It made its way through Congress with no support from Republican lawmakers.

GOP lawmakers questioned the cost and suggested less spending on relief than what has been signed by the president.

Klain was asked on MSNBC about suggestions it was "too much" or could "overheat" the economy.

He pointed to unemployment figures and "food lines that are miles long."

"It's long past time for this country to step up and do what we need to do to help those people who are hurting," he said.

"That's the right thing to do, that's what President Biden said he would do.

"It's also going to be good for our economy. We know this economy grows when the working class, the middle class have economic opportunities.

"And one thing the American Rescue Plan does is it puts an end to the economics focused at the people at the very top, really invests in the middle class and working people. That's going to get our economy growing for everybody."

While some critics questioned the spend, economists had also warned of risks associated with spending too little on stimulus.

In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll, conducted with 1,227 U.S. adults from March 3 to 8, respondents were asked: "From what you've read or heard, do you think President Biden´s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package goes too far, does not go far enough, or is about right?"

biden bill signing in oval office
President Joe Biden participates in a bill signing in the Oval Office of the White House on March 11, 2021 in Washington, D.C. President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill on Thursday. Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images

The top response was "about right," with 37 percent of those asked opting for this.

Around a third, 34 percent, of respondents said too far, while 21 percent said it does not go far enough. These results were statistically significant within plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

In Pew Research polling, conducted March 1 to 7, 41 percent of 6,044 respondents said the bill was "about right." Around a third, 33 percent, said too much and 25 percent too little.

A CBS News poll also showed support for the relief package having been passed.

Overall, 75 percent of those asked March 9 to 10 said they approved of Congress passing the package. Broken down by political affiliation, 94 percent of Democrats approved, 77 percent of independents and 46 percent of Republicans. The polling was conducted among 1,306 U.S. residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for further comment.

The graphic below, from Statista, shows a breakdown of what spending is in the relief package.

Stimulus Package 1.9tn - Statista
Statista