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Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) pushed back on questions about the lack of bipartisan support for the Biden administration’s COVID relief bill, noting that “you have to have people on both sides who want to do it.”
Stabenow spoke with MSNBC weekend anchor Alex Witt on Saturday afternoon just moments after the Senate passed the $1.9 trillion COVID aid package on a strict party line vote of 50 – 49 (one GOP senator was absent due to a family emergency).
“Are you disappointed at all, senator, that this was not a bipartisan vote, not one Republican crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats?” Witt asked, pressing the Michigan Democrat on a critique that, with no crossover support for the bill, Biden is failing to live up to his promise to restore unity to Washington. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has pushed back on that claim, noting the broad, bipartisan support the bill enjoys among Americans.
The Michigan Democrat picked up on that point in her answer as well.
“Alex, I work across the aisle all the time, and I will tell you, you have to have people on both sides that want to do it,” Stabenow pointed out. “So we have bipartisan amendments, the very first amendment when we started working on this bill was bipartisan. But the most important thing is that it’s bipartisan in the country. When we have over 75 percent of the American people, of all walks of life, all parties and political persuasions, saying ‘Yes, my family needs help, I want to make sure my kids are safe in school, I want to make sure we get the vaccines we need.’ That’s the real test of bipartisanship.”
To highlight the lack of good faith in bipartisanship from Republicans, Stabenow noted that some GOP senator attempted to strip anti-poverty funding and food assistance from the COVID relief package during the so-called vote-a-rama.
“They had amendments that they filed to cut WIC, Women Infants and Children program, that’s literally taking food out fo the mouths of babies,” she emphasized. “When you look at the effort to cut back on unemployment assistance and assistance for farmers that are hurting and small businesses, you go right across the board. I find it’s stunning they will be able to go home and say what the wanted to do was give you less help, less checks in their pockets, less opportunities to get vaccines so you can be safe and your family can be safe. Less support for your schools. I don’t know how that is a winning message but I can tell you I’m glad that I’m not the one trying to sell that.”
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