Dec. 22, 2020 by David Silverberg
Southwest Florida Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) were among the members in the minority of their respective chambers who voted against a massive, $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that passed both the House of Representatives and the US Senate last night.
The Senate vote was 92 to 6 in favor of the bill. In contrast to Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) voted in favor of it.
Among its many other provisions, the bill will provide $600 to Americans making less than $75,000 per year who lost jobs in the pandemic.
The Senate vote came at 10:48 pm, two hours after the House approved the measure. The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 (House Resolution 133) passed in two House votes, the first approved by 327 votes to 85 and the second by 359 to 53.
The bill now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it today. The bill passed in both chambers by veto-proof margins.
In both cases, Southwest Florida Reps. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) voted in favor of the measure.
“We must help Americans & small businesses in need but we can’t keep operating this way,” stated Scott in a tweet. “Once again, in classic Washington style, vital programs are attached to a massive omnibus spending bill that mortgages our kids & grandkid’s futures. Therefore, I can’t support this bill.”
“My job here in the Senate is to solve problems & make a difference,” tweeted Rubio following the Senate vote. “That is what we did for #SmallBiz earlier this year with #PPP [the Paycheck Protection Program]. And that is what we did again now.”
Calling it “a so-called relief bill,” Steube charged that “instead of addressing the economic suffering of Americans, Democrats have manipulated this process to force their radical agenda on the American people during a time of crisis,” he tweeted. He expanded on his objections in a longer statement.
House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) said in a floor speech that while there was more work to do to stop the pandemic and help Americans, the bill “will meet the needs of the American people—to crush this virus and to do so in a way that brings us all into the future in a very safe way.”
The 5,593-page piece of legislation also includes another bill of vital importance to Southwest Florida, the Water Resources Development Act, which governs all the water sources in the region.
Both Diaz-Balart in the House and Rubio in the Senate claimed credit for a provision allowing citizens married to spouses who were previously ineligible for benefits to now collect them.
“The CARES ACT [a previous relief bill] contained an oversight that prevented otherwise eligible American citizens from getting assistance because they were married to a non-citizen,” tweeted Rubio. “I filed a bill to fix it.”
“As I have stated before, there is no reason to justify why a US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident should be excluded from receiving a benefit meant for Americans simply due to the legal status of a spouse,” stated Diaz-Balart. “I am thrilled to see that this provision was taken into consideration in this new COVID relief bill, and I look forward to seeing the great impact this will make in helping the American people.”
The final bill was the result of a deal reached between the House and Senate leadership after long and difficult negotiations. However, with millions of Americans facing the consequences of lost jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, the pressure to reach an agreement was intense.
In addition to providing paycheck protection and passage of the Water Resources Development Act, the bill, based on a House-Senate bipartisan agreement:
- Accelerates vaccine distribution;
- Ends surprise medical billing;
- Supports small business;
- Helps community lenders;
- Assists renters;
- Strengthens low income housing tax credits;
- Supports paid sick leave;
- Enhances unemployment insurance benefits;
- Provides nutrition assistance for the hungry;
- Aids education and child care;
- Expands grants for education;
- Encourages clean energy;
- Helps fund international vaccine efforts.
“We are disappointed that Republicans have refused to recognize the need to honor our heroic frontline workers by supporting robust funding for state and local governments,” stated Pelosi. “State and local governments need much more funding to prevent senseless layoffs and critical service cuts.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has stated that, once signed, government-issued checks could go out as soon as next week.
Liberty lives in light
© 2020 by David Silverberg