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A White House spokesperson on Friday criticized Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for taking credit for state projects funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, which she’d opposed in 2021.
Haris Talwar, a White House regional spokesman, said Reynolds, a Republican, called the $1.9 trillion federal relief package an “unconstitutional stimulus bill that does nothing but bail out blue states.” in 2021.
“Now that the people of Iowa are benefiting through tens of thousands of jobs created and historic investments supporting child care, expanding broadband and improving school safety — we are grateful the governor has come around to recognizing the positive impacts of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan on Iowa and the country," Talwar said in a statement to the Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau.
Democrats have been critical of Reynolds’ opposition to the plan for close to a year, first making note after she announced a $200 million investment in rural broadband that used the federal dollars.
The American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Democrats on a party-line vote in 2021, delivered hundreds of billions of dollars to state and local governments to make up for COVID-19 related revenue loss.
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat from Des Moines, was the only one of Iowa’s congressional delegation to vote for the bill.
The state received approximately $1.48 billion from the act, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Reynolds’ spokesperson Alex Murphy did not provide a comment on the criticism but pointed to previous statements Reynolds has made on the issue.
Last year, Reynolds told reporters the state would be “very strategic on how we’re using those funds,” according to the Des Moines Register, and she reiterated that she opposed high spending by the federal government.
Speaking with the Sioux City Journal in 2021, Reynolds said the American Rescue Plan’s price tag was far too high and included funding in areas that should not have been included.
“There’s a cost to that, somebody's got to pay for that at some point, and it punishes states that I think have been very targeted in their mitigation efforts and have tried to do the right thing,” she said.
Iowa, she said then, would look at areas where relief was needed, giving business relief, mental health and broadband as examples
“We still have small businesses that are hurting, people that have lost their jobs or lost their businesses and put their entire life savings into it,” she said.
Reynolds also joined 21 other governors in signing a letter opposing the funding formula of the American Rescue Plan. They said the formula, which gave aid to states based on unemployment rates, punished states that kept businesses open during the pandemic.
This week, Reynolds announced the recipients of $20 million in funding to nonprofits through the federal act. A portion of the $26.6 million in grants announced earlier in the week to help businesses address child care shortages also came from the American Rescue Plan.
“We received overwhelming interest in this unique grant program, which highlights the passion of Iowa’s nonprofits and their positive impact on our state,” Reynolds said in a news release announcing the nonprofit grants. “These grants will invest in innovative projects that will put Iowa’s nonprofits in a better position to serve those in need.”
Other funding made available with the money includes $200 million for rural broadband, a $100 million fund to generate tourism and attract new residents, $30 million for workforce innovation grants, $100 million to bolster school safety and $100 million to address water quality.
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Zach Wahls said in May when the child care grants were announced that Reynolds was trying to take credit for actions taken by Democrats.
“The truth is that President Biden and Congresswoman Axne are trying to solve a problem that Kim Reynolds is responsible for — Iowa's worst-in-the-nation child care crisis,” he said in a statement. “Iowa Senate Democrats have a plan that would lower costs and make child care more accessible. We're just waiting on Reynolds and Iowa legislative Republicans to work with us."