When President Biden addresses the nation Thursday evening, he's expected to tout the virtues of a $1.9 trillion relief package that he and Democrats believe delivers on a key campaign promise to work for all Americans and bring the country safely and fully out of the pandemic.
Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, will hope the nation takes note that the President was not able to deliver on his promise of bipartisanship - the bill received not a single vote from a Republican member of Congress.
Members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation have been extremely critical of the way Democrats pushed the bill through with little opportunity for meaningful GOP input, not to mention what the bill actually contains.
"Let’s be clear," said Rep. Stephanie Bice, (R) OK-5. "This is the Biden bailout plan; this is not targeted COVID relief.”
Republican criticism has generally focused on the bill being unnecessarily large, and on the contents having, they say, very little to do with actual COVID relief. Even items such as stimulus checks, which Republicans overwhelmingly supported on two separate occasions in 2020 relief measures, are now deemed unrelated to COVID relief.
Congresswoman Bice acknowledges that some Americans are still struggling, but "we're being asked to pay $1,400 per person in a stimulus check," Bice said in an interview Thursday. "With many families not actually needing the dollars, and that’s going to be a burden on my children, grandchildren, yours as well in the future."
Even the funding the bill contains for vaccine distribution and schools is being questioned by critics, who said there's money from the previous relief packages that hasn't been spent.
"And they’re still asking for an additional hundreds of billions of dollars more in all of these areas," said Sen. James Lankford, (R) Oklahoma. "Testing, vaccines, education -- we’ve done that."
"We are on the backside of the pandemic," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R) OK-2. "We don’t need to be throwing money at it for the sake of throwing money at it."
Another common thread in the GOP's criticism is the notion that the bill disproportionately benefits blue states, because the House and Senate leaders, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, are from the country's two biggest blue states.
"This is about putting New York and California ideas on the rest of America," stated Rep. Kevin Hern, (R) OK-1. "That’s just a huge problem for all of us."
Some Oklahomans could receive their stimulus checks as soon as this weekend.