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PolitiFact VA: McAuliffe Claims Youngkin Against COVID-19 Relief

Man gestures while speaking into microphone
Former Gov. Terry McAulliffe speaks at a campaign event at Hardywood park Craft Brewery in June. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Speaker: Terry McAuliffe
Statement: Says Glenn Youngkin “called COVID relief ‘unnecessary.’”
Date: Aug. 23, 2021
Setting: TV ad

In a recent TV ad, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe says Glenn Youngkin, his Republican opponent, is out of touch with working families.

The ad says Youngkin “called COVID relief ‘unnecessary,’” a charge the two candidates have been tussling over since June. We fact-checked the claim and found McAuliffe has taken liberty with Youngkin’s position on the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that sent $1,400 checks to many people and aid to state and local governments.

McAuliffe’s ad pins its claim to comments Youngkin made during a May 12 interview with the Daily Caller, a conservative-leaning online publication. President Joe Biden had signed the relief bill two months earlier.

Youngkin said there was “unnecessary stimulus” in the economy that is causing inflation. He blamed Federal Reserve “monetary” policies and portions of the COVID relief bill that sent money to states and pension plans, many of which he said were poorly managed. Here’s more of Youngkin’s quote:

“We in fact have unnecessary stimulus being pounded through our economy, both from a monetary standpoint coupled with the fact that we have a lot of fiscal stimulus right now.”

Youngkin described the relief plan as “a stimulus bill that in fact was cloaked in being a COVID stimulus bill with virtually no COVID health in it…”. 

 “I mean, we had a stimulus bill that in fact was cloaked in being a COVID stimulus bill with virtually no COVID health in it and a lot of handouts and spending to states that were poorly run…”.

PolitiFact National has rated Half True a claim that only 9% of the relief act is “actually going to COVID.” It said while it’s accurate to say less than 9% of the plan funds activities directly meant to combat the virus itself, the definition of COVID-related is squishy and it’s fair to say that some of the relief to individuals and school systems were related to the pandemic.

Youngkin says the ad claim is misleading because, while he opposed broad swaths of the law that sent money to governments, and pensions, he backed the portions that aided individuals.

Youngkin said in March, “There’s some elements in (the law) that really are extremely helpful.”

He has praised the act’s checks to people, its grants to small businesses and — at least since June — its expansion of child tax credits.  Those items account for roughly one-third of the law’s $1.9 billion cost.

Youngkin’s position seems closely aligned with congressional Republicans who voted 259-0 against the bill, describing it as mostly wasteful. Youngkin has not said whether he would have voted for the bill; his campaign said it is irrelevant to this fact-check. He tweeted on Aug. 8, “I did not oppose the American Rescue plan,” and made a similar statement on May 19. 

Our ruling

McAuliffe’s ad says Youngkin “called COVID relief ‘unnecessary.’”

Youngkin actually said that the economy is bulging with “unnecessary stimulus.” McAuliffe has a leg to stand on because Youngkin partially blamed the problem on portions of the American Rescue Plan that sent aid to states, localities and pension plans.

But McAuliffe skips important information. Youngkin also said, before the ad aired, that he supports popular aspects of the law that gave $1,400 checks to many people, increased tax deductions for children and sent aid to small businesses.

McAuliffe takes liberty with Youngkin’s statement and his position on COVID relief. We rate his ad statement Mostly False.

Sources

Terry McAuliffe, TV ad, Aug. 23, 2021
Glenn Youngkin, Daily Caller interview, May 1, 2021 (6:d45 mark)
Youngkin, WCVH radio interview, March 16, 2021 (9:27 mark)
Youngkin, WNIS interview, May 19, 2021
Youngkin, Twitter, Aug. 2 and Aug. 8, 2021
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, “What's in the $1.9 Trillion House COVID Relief Bill?” Feb. 18, 2021
Reuters, “Fact Check-What’s in the new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill?” March 12, 2021
PolitiFact, “The COVID-19 relief package: Where the money goes,” March 19, 2021
PolitiFact, “Budd says 9% of stimulus targets COVID, the rest is 'not even' related,” March 1, 2021.
Email from McAuliffe’s campaign, Aug. 27, 2021
Emails from Youngkin campaign, Aug. 21 and Aug. 27, 2021
The Washington Post, “Senate passes Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill after voting overnight on amendments, sends measure back to House,” March 6. 2021
The Washington Post, “Congress adopts $1.9 trillion stimulus, securing first major win for Biden,” March 10, 2021