In The News
Huizenga Op-Ed: The Biden/Pelosi “Stimulus” is Light on Fighting Covid, Loaded with Liberal Political Priorities
Washington, March 3, 2021
Three hours after restaurants and bars were mandated to close here in Michigan, Speaker Pelosi and Democrats in the House were passing a $1.9 trillion partisan spending bill masquerading as “COVID relief” in the middle of the night in Washington. I voted against this package and I believe Michiganders deserve to know what is in this monstrosity.
Over the past year, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass five bipartisan relief bills that were signed into law by President Trump. In fact, there is approximately $1 trillion remaining unspent from those previous agreements. Despite President Biden’s pledge of unity, his first major legislative endeavor looks nothing like it. As this legislation went through the House, Republicans introduced 286 amendments to President Biden’s proposal. These amendments would do a host of things including increase vaccine distribution goals, provide back to work bonuses, and help small businesses in a timely and targeted manner.
Out of all these opportunities, only my amendment to provide flexibility for small businesses of less than 10 employees and gig economy workers was included in the bill that passed Friday night. In fact, Republicans proposed amending the legislation to allocate $140 million for children’s mental health and suicide prevention services. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi and house Democrats blocked the amendment, choosing to use this funding to build a subway tunnel in Silicon Valley just outside Speaker Pelosi’s district.
Recently, President Biden challenged Republicans to find items to cut from the bill. Here are a few examples I would suggest: a $350 billion bailout for fiscally irresponsible states, an $86 billion bailout for pensions, $34 billion to expand ObamaCare, $1.5 billion for Amtrak, $270 million in Arts and Humanities Endowments, $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, $50 million for organizations like Planned Parenthood, and $1.5 million for a bridge in New York favored by Senator Schumer.
While Democrats like to highlight vaccines, stimulus checks, and funding for schools in this bill, the reality is much different when you look into it. It may be shocking, but only 9 percent of the $1.9 trillion spending bill goes toward public health provisions to defeat COVID-19 and only 1 percent of it goes to vaccines.
The $1,400 stimulus checks have garnered headlines, but under this legislation federal bureaucrats are paid $1,400 per week for 15 weeks to stay home and not work if their children’s school is remote. How in the world is this acceptable? Families in West Michigan and across the nation have been forced to deal with the challenges created by the pandemic. Federal employees should not receive this sweetheart deal.
Speaking of education, 95 percent of the approximately $128 billion in federal funding included in this bill won’t be spent until next school year or later according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). On top of that even when the funding is administered, the formula is in dire need of adjustment. Prior to the vote, I sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi with several of my Michigan colleagues highlighting how some school districts in Michigan would receive over $18,000 per pupil under the current formula, while some schools in West Michigan would receive less than $500 per pupil. Last week, I received a letter of support from 43 public school superintendents across Allegan, Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon Counties in favor of adjusting the formula. Sadly, no adjustment was made.
At the end of the day, this $1.9 trillion spending package passed by the House was loaded with liberal policy objectives that permitted taxpayer funded abortion, increased the federal minimum wage to $15 (despite the CBO saying that will eliminate 1.4 million jobs), and a rash of spending on priorities unrelated to overcoming the pandemic. Simply put, this is not a targeted, temporary, or fiscally responsible use of taxpayer dollars.
Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, represents Michigan’s 2nd congressional district