President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed the Democratic-controlled House early Saturday morning along a mostly party line vote.
The bill, called the American Rescue Plan, now heads to the evenly divided Senate.
Wisconsin House members were split along party lines as every Democrat voted for it and every Republican voted against it.
The bill, if signed into law, would provide, among other things, a $1,400 direct payment to most Americans; $350 billion to state and local governments; $130 billion to reopen schools and colleges; $50 billion for small-business assistance; and $160 billion for vaccine development, distribution and related needs.
Here are statements from Wisconsin’s House delegation on why they voted for or against the bill:
Bryan Steil, 1st District, Republican
“Speaker Pelosi rammed the $1.9 trillion Biden Bailout Bill through Congress, even though $1 trillion in previously approved federal funds remain unspent. These already approved dollars should be used to safely reopen schools, accelerate vaccine distribution and help workers get back to work. The Biden Bailout Bill includes $350 billion to bail out fiscally irresponsible states like Illinois and only a fraction of the total funding will go towards coronavirus relief. Of the billions of dollars included in this bill for education, none of it is tied to reopening and only five percent of this money will be spent this year. Our country needs targeted relief, not a liberal wish list.”
Mark Pocan, 2nd District, Democrat
“We just passed COVID relief that gets checks to the American people, invests in vaccine distribution & testing, ensures schools have the resources to open safely, expands food assistance, protects frontline workers & raises the minimum wage. Lot more left to do—let’s do it.”
Ron Kind, 3rd District, Democrat
“I’ve heard from so many Wisconsinites about the challenges they’re facing due to the COVID-19 crisis, whether it’s our front-line health care professionals working tirelessly to combat this virus, schools trying desperately to keep our kids safe in the classroom or our farmers, families and small businesses struggling to make ends meet. That’s why I voted to pass the American Rescue Plan. This legislation is a direct reflection of what people back home want Congress to do, and we are working to meet the urgency of this moment. The American Rescue Plan will deliver much-needed aid to families and small businesses across the state, ramp up vaccine production, help us beat the COVID-19 virus and get our economy back on track. Time is of the essence, and Wisconsinites need relief now.”
Gwen Moore, 4th District, Democrat
“The American Rescue Plan meets this moment of compounding crises with a bold, comprehensive response. By providing survival checks, expanding access to health care and making poverty fighting tools like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) more accessible, we directly uplift working families. And gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour will mean 38 percent of workers in Wisconsin’s Fourth (district) will see a long overdue raise! I’m proud we still include this crucial provision despite the Senate parliamentarian’s decision.”
Scott Fitzgerald, 5th District, Republican
“To say this budget proposal is irresponsible would be an understatement of the century. More than 91% of the spending in this $1.9 trillion package is not used for pandemic relief. In fact, some of the funding is being funneled into pet projects like Senator Schumer’s bridge and Speaker Pelosi’s tunnel. The Democrats continue to show just how out of touch they are with everyday Americans. Students need schools to reopen; small businesses need to stay open; and workers need the opportunity to go to work. Unlike the CARES Act, which delivered legitimate relief, this bill does little to address the current and immediate needs of Wisconsinites.”
Glenn Grothman, 6th District, Republican
The public has been told that today’s #BidenBailoutBill is a COVID-19 relief bill. Only 9% goes toward COVID and there is a provision to build a $100 million train near Speaker Pelosi’s district. It is time for the Democrats to be honest with the American people
Tom Tiffany, 7th District, Republican
“The Democrats so-called ‘relief’ bill is filled with unrelated, job-killing policies like a $15 minimum wage mandate that will kick small businesses when they are down, $112 million for Speaker Pelosi’s train and $350 billion in bailouts for state and local governments who haven’t been as fiscally responsible as Wisconsin. With our national debt approaching $30 trillion, we can’t afford a $1.9 trillion package — only 9 percent of which is dedicated to COVID health spending.”
Mike Gallagher, 8th District, Republican
“The House just voted on the ‘American Rescue Plan,’ which, by the sound of it, would give the nation the resources it needs to finally defeat this disease. But when only 9% of the $1.9 trillion it spends goes to actually fighting the coronavirus, it’s clear this bill is a ‘rescue plan’ in name only. No wonder my colleagues waited until the middle of the night to pass it. Put aside the fact that Congress has already allocated $4 trillion to fight this virus – $1 trillion of which remains unspent – and consider that nearly half of this “rescue plan” won’t even be appropriated this fiscal year when our economy needs it most. In fact, only 5% of the $130 billion it gives to schools will actually help them reopen this year, and less than 1% of the bill will go to actually distributing the vaccine.”