SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky — Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., continued his opposition to the American Rescue plan Tuesday even after touring and expressing his happiness for the role the McKesson distribution facility in Shepherdsville is playing as a contracted COVID-19 vaccine distributor for the Centers for Disease Control.
Billions of dollars from the bill, passed by Congress on March 10, are destined to beef up the CDC's vaccine rollout nationwide. McKesson began work on this mission before the first Pfizer vaccine doses were given emergency authorization by the FDA.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 10, kits began shipping from McKesson facilities through the UPS Worldport in Louisville.
On Dec. 13, McKesson launched the most significant vaccination effort in American history as its workers boxed millions of vials of Pfizer's vaccine to be shipped nationwide.
Now the company is helping to distribute the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Mckesson's partnership with the CDC has been fruitful and the CDC is receiving billions in targeted vaccine funding as a result of the American Rescue Plan.
Still, McConnell insisted Tuesday that the bill spends too much money in too many areas.
"One percent of it has to do with the vaccines that we’re looking at the distribution of today," McConnell said as he lifted a single finger in front of him. "One percent of 1.9 trillion for vaccines. Only 9% for healthcare. Well, I thought that’s what this was about."
Despite its $1.9 trillion price tag, the American Rescue Plan was vastly popular among Americans, including many Republican voters, according to multiple national polls conducted around the time of the vote.
Neither McConnell nor a single other Republican in the House or Senate voted in favor of the bill. During a floor speech before the House on Feb. 27, Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., called the bill a partisan "liberal wish list."
Outside McKesson, McConnell said the spending was too much, too late.
"$1.9 trillion was about the size of the CARES Act a year ago," he said. "Well, we are not where we were a year ago. A year ago, we had no vaccine. A year ago, we shut down the economy. A year ago, we weren't quite sure what to do or how quickly we could come out of this. This is not last year."
Continuing that contrast of circumstances, McConnell said the economy is getting better on its own with more and more restaurants opening capacity. He did insist, though, that it is too early for Americans to let down their guard.
"I do think we need to be careful. I saw the director of the CDC reminding us we’re not entirely to the mask-free stage yet. I’m still wearing mine. I’m still encouraging everybody to wear theirs."
McConnell also showed concern that voters from his own party need to trust that the vaccines are safe and necessary.
"I read a story the other day that, for some reason, Republican men seem to be the largest group left that's had some resistance to taking the vaccine. I'm a Republican man. As soon as I was eligible to take the vaccine I did."
McConnell also visited Bowling Green on Tuesday to discuss vaccine efforts with medical experts.