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Relief bill draws ire of local congressional members

Three local members of the United States Congress were left unsatisfied by Monday’s vote for a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill and an over trillion-dollar stopgap measure to fund the government through September 30th.  The relief bill offers a $300-per-week supplemental jobless benefit and $600 to most Americans. It also provides subsidies to businesses heavily impacted by the pandemic and resources needed to help vaccinate the country. The 1.4  trillion appropriations bill offers additional money for food stamps, broadband expansion, clean energy,  and public transit. U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher voted against the House version of the bill, decrying the lack of time members of Congress had to read the over 5,700 page bill. The Green Bay Republican questioned how something like this could happen when the House has been on vacation for two-thirds of the year. Wisconsin’s Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin voted in favor of the bill but says it needs to do more. She is urging members of Congress to work with the Biden administration in the new year to pass additional relief. The state’s Republican U.S. Senator, Ron Johnson, echoed Rep. Gallagher’s sentiments about passing a bill with so little time to read its final texts. Speaking to last week, Johnson said there is still a lot of money from the last COVID-19 relief bill that has been unspent.

President Donald Trump was expected to sign the bill on Tuesday. You can read the full statement from the local Congressional leaders online with this story.



"Yesterday, members of Congress were advised that we should expect a vote on a more than two trillion dollar funding bill. Members had little clarity on the hundreds of significant provisions included, and no timeline as to when we could expect to see the text of a final agreement. 


"Then, after the white smoke rose out of the Speaker’s office last night, members were finally provided with the actual text of the agreement at approximately 2:00pm today. Now, after less than seven hours, we were expected to vote on a more than $2 trillion bill which is a whopping 5,593 pages -- more than twice as long as the Affordable Care Act and more than 1,000 pages longer than the entire Harry Potter series.  


"To state the obvious: no one knows what’s all in this bill because no one has actually read this bill. And while there are no doubt long overdue and badly needed provisions -- such as $28 billion to support the purchase and distribution of a vaccine -- they make up an incredibly small fraction of the nearly $2.3 trillion in spending that we voted on this evening.


"After being on vacation for more than three quarters of the year, there’s no reason why Congress should vote on a bill of this size on a few hours notice. If Congress was elected to simply be a rubber stamp of leadership, why even have a Congress?"



“I am voting for the bipartisan COVID-19 relief legislation because Wisconsin needs help and it’s essential that Congress provide some now before the end of the year. But our job is not done responding to this public health and economic crisis. In January, we need to come back and start working together with the Biden Administration to provide federal support to Wisconsin that working families, our state, and local communities are going to need next year to get past this deadly pandemic and build back better.”



“The dysfunction of Washington, D.C. was on full display as Congress combined covid relief with a massive omnibus spending bill three months past the deadline and into the current fiscal year. This monstrosity was 5,593 pages long, and passed only nine hours after the Senate first saw it. It will be weeks, maybe months, before we begin to understand all that has been included. I simply could not support this dysfunction, so I voted no.


“While I am glad a government shutdown was avoided and that financial relief will finally reach many who truly need it, the fact that this dysfunction has become routine is the reason we are currently $27.5 trillion in debt. This combined spending bill will drive our debt to over $29 trillion by the end of this fiscal year. I supported the CARES Act because we had to act quickly and massively to prevent an economic meltdown and to provide needed financial relief.  I also helped craft and voted for a bill in September that would have provided more than $600 billion in targeted relief, but Democrats simply voted no.


“We do not have an unlimited checking account. We must spend federal dollars — money we are borrowing from future generations — more carefully and place limits on how much we are mortgaging our children’s future.”  

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