House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., speaks during a press conference on Feb. 3, 2021. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries criticized the GOP for paying more attention to Dr. Seuss than COVID-19.
Democrat are working to aid people’s recovery while the GOP focuses on culture wars, he said.
The House is preparing to vote on Biden’s COVID-19 package this week.
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Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on Tuesday blasted Republicans for their recent uproar over the famous children’s book author, Dr. Seuss, instead of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“House Democrats are the party of crushing the coronavirus and providing relief to everyday Americans,” the New York lawmaker said during a House Democratic Caucus news conference. “House Republicans are the party of fake outrage as it relates to Dr. Seuss.”
“It’s a strange thing,” he added.
Jeffries’ comments come after several high-profile Republicans paid special attention to Dr. Seuss over the past week because his publisher, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, decided to stop publishing six books that feature racist stereotypes. They include “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”
GOP lawmakers protested the move as part of what they have labeled “cancel culture.” Republicans have flagged concerns over what they describe as online mobs threatening free speech and social media companies censoring conservative beliefs on their platforms.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday posted a video on Twitter in which he was reading a Dr. Seuss book. The caption said: “I still like Dr. Seuss, so I decided to read Green Eggs and Ham. RT if you still like him too!”
Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California criticized McCarthy for the video and drew a comparison between the two parties, similar to the one Jeffries made Tuesday.
“Dems are focused on getting stimulus checks, unemployment benefits & small business loans to the American people,” Lieu said in a tweet. “@GOPLeader is focused on Green Eggs and Ham, a book that continues to be published and accepted by the free market.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas weighed in on the matter and spun the publisher’s decision to take six books off shelves as President Joe Biden’s fault. He also seized the moment to promote his own book.
Rep. Matt Gaetz and Sen. Marco Rubio, both of Florida, also piled on.
Amid the furor, several popular Dr. Seuss books climbed to the top of Amazon’s bestsellers list.
The GOP leaned heavily into culture wars at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference, headlined “America Uncanceled,” where topics such as cancel culture took center stage. Republican speakers rarely discussed the coronavirus pandemic or the stimulus package.
Meanwhile, the House is readying to vote on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package this week after the bill passed the Senate on Saturday. No Republican senators signed on to the legislation, which includes $1,400 direct payments to Americans, an extension of unemployment benefits, funding to get the country vaccinated, among other provisions. Federal unemployment aid to millions of Americans is set to expire on March 14.
Congressional Republicans have slammed the bill as lacking bipartisanship and argued that they were shut out of the negotiating process. Biden met with a group of Republican senators last month who wanted to slim-down his COVID-19 package, but ultimately pushed back on their proposal.
House Democrats said they are confident that the stimulus will pass the chamber and be sent to the president’s desk for his signature, becoming Biden’s first major legislation enacted under his administration.
But Jeffries expressed uncertainty over whether any GOP House members will vote “yes” on the bill.
“The question is not whether we’re going to pass the American Rescue plan – we will,” he said. “The question is whether Republicans are going to step up on behalf of their constituents and support this effort to decisively crush the virus.”
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