WASHINGTON — As Congress debates a massive $1.9 trillion bill aimed at providing financial relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Utah congressional delegation vocally raised concerns about the bill.
With unemployment aid tied to the pandemic set to expire March 14, House and Senate Democrats hope to have the bill on President Joe Biden’s desk by early next week. The Senate’s version included some changes from the original House version, which means once the Senate approves the bill, it will need to go back to the House for final approval before it’s ready for the president’s signature.
Utah delegation opposes COVID-19 relief bill
As the debate continued, members of the Utah delegation raised their concerns about the COVID-19 relief bill on social media and through more traditional channels.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, spoke out against the bill on the floor of the Senate.
“This bill is not about providing actual COVID relief for the American people. It’s about fulfilling a partisan wish list, through bad economic reasoning and blatant special-interest handouts,” said Lee. “It will worsen our nation’s economic health in the long term and does little to help American small businesses and families in the short term.”
“Everybody, Congress has lost their minds. This entire city has gone nuts,” said Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, in an Instagram video.
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He said only 9% of the bill actually has anything to do with COVID-19 relief.
“Everything else is just a Pelosi payoff. It’s her paying her friends, paying her voters. It’s things like, money for blue states who have mismanaged their pension funds. It’s tens of billions of dollars to schools that aren’t even open. It’s to build this new subway in Silicon Valley.”
Following the money
Lee said $1.5 billion would go to Amtrak, which already has $1 billion of unspent bailout money, $50 million to EPA “environmental justice grants,” $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and another $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
They point out the five previous coronavirus relief bills were bipartisan efforts and that hundreds of billions of dollars have yet to be spent from those bills
Utahns have made hard decisions to ensure a prosperous economy. In fact, the state is running a surplus. Utah’s sacrifice and good governance should not go to bail out other states to the tune of $350 billion.
What would you cut? pic.twitter.com/d6oucalIkx
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 3, 2021
Utah’s other senator, Mitt Romney, also a Republican, called the package a “clunker” that would waste hundreds of billions of dollars, do nothing meaningful to get students back to school and work against creating jobs.
The administration’s $1.9 trillion #COVID19 plan adds to our national debt without creating benefit to our economy or helping people in need. This isn’t monopoly money—these are real dollars that will be paid for by our children and grandchildren. pic.twitter.com/XyMFnZztwK
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) March 4, 2021
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