Congressman Trent Kelly spoke to Y’all Politics about what the U.S. House of Representatives has been working on in regards to COVID-19 and other business as of late.
Kelly said the House recently sent the Senate a roughly $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which he said “wasn’t really a serious bill.” However, it will begin the process of the chambers working together to negotiate the official terms of aid that will be sent to Americans.
“What that lets us do is now the Senate will push a package, that will be much different, and we are use to that. Then we’ll go to conference the two and hopefully we will come out with something that is reasonable,” said Kelly. He said many of the “pet projects” the House initially put in will eventually come out during the conference process.
The U.S. House is controlled by Democrats while Republicans maintain control of the Senate. Because of this, Kelly said, he didn’t have much influence on his side but was able to work with Senators from the Mississippi delegation as well as others to influence the process.
He said the product that will come forward is likely to be quite different than what is being presented by both the House and Senate right now. He anticipated an agreement would be reached around the August break.
“If you get into October, quite frankly, you’re too late to help for a lot of people who need it,” said Kelly.
He said he is opposed to continuing the $600 a week extra unemployment assistance and instead is pushing for an incentive for individuals who do return to work.
When it comes to relationships among House and Senate members of different party affiliation, Kelly said this last year has been quite difficult.
“There’s a lot of people I work well with, but I can tell you from the leadership level I’ve never seen it more toxic,” said Kelly. “It’s punitive, it’s mean and it’s all political. It seems like they care more about passing bills to get political points to try to win in November than they do about taking care of the American people and that is really frustrating to me.”
Kelly also called out members who chose to vote remotely claiming COVID-19 restrictions. The Congressman said leadership is calling votes during times that make it difficult for members to do their jobs due to travel back and forth to their home states.
While some members have tested positive with COVID-19, Kelly said the majority of individuals are doing whatever they can to protect themselves and others.
“First of all, COVID-19 is important and I think it’s going to be on the news all day everyday and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think we need to stay aware and protect our folks at risk,” said Kelly.
He also agreed that masks should be worn by people when they are out in public, but did not think it should be a federal mandate. He complimented Governor Tate Reeves on his approach to a county by county order to wear masks in public.
Kelly said schools should be allowed to make their own decision on how students return, whether that be in person or have a virtual option.
“I think it needs to be a local decision unless it elevates and shows that people are in danger in which maybe a higher level comes in,” said Kelly.
The Congressman said everyone should be hoping and praying for a vaccine or a cure which he said could really change the game on how this virus is playing out in the U.S.