Despite overwhelming opposition and the inclusion of provisions deemed inadmissible by the Senate Parliamentarian, H.R. 1319 – American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, passed the House of Representatives. Congressman Michael Guest (MS-03) joined 210 Republicans and 2 Democrats in voting against the legislation. No Republicans voted in favor of the legislation.
“We have passed five stimulus bills over the last year that involved Republicans and Democrats working together for the American people. Democrats were not interested in bipartisanship this time. This bill should not be referred to as COVID relief because less than 10 percent of the funds included are directed towards efforts to fight the coronavirus. Instead of a focused bill, Democrats packed this legislation with their partisan agenda items and tried to pass it off as pandemic relief. This so-called ‘relief’ is nothing more than a vehicle for billions of dollars in bailouts for Democrat-led states, a $15 minimum wage that would destroy over a million American jobs, and millions of dollars for projects unrelated to coronavirus relief.”
Congressman Guest listed a few of the items in the legislation he believes would need to be cut before Republicans would consider the bill, including:
- Provisions that destroy American jobs,
- Bailouts for mismanaged state budgets,
- Assistance for abortion providers, and
- Ongoing expanded unemployment payments.
Last week, Congressman Guest raised his concerns over the bill’s lack of relief for rural Americans in a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing.
“Over the last year, we worked together on legislation that addressed the needs of Americans everywhere. This legislation is strong evidence as to why we need bipartisanship more than ever, because by excluding Republicans in developing this bill, you have excluded millions of rural Americans,” Congressman Guest said in the hearing.
In that hearing, over 50 amendments were offered by Republicans, including an amendment by Congressman Guest to expand the distribution of vaccines in rural America. All of the amendments were rejected out of hand.
Congressman Guest has also raised concerns over the necessity of the bill, citing funds leftover from previous relief bills as sufficient for current relief efforts.
“There is still $1 trillion in COVID relief funding that has yet to be spent. We need to be good stewards of the American people’s money instead of pushing through legislation that overshoots the gap of what’s needed to respond to the pandemic,” Guest said in a Facebook post. In another post, the Congressman includes additional details on the specific amounts of funds available for various relief efforts, including:
- $280 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program,
- $239 billion for public health programs,
- $172 billion for economic injury disaster loans,
- $59 billion for education, and
- $58 billion for state and local aid.
The bill now moves to the Senate for final approval. The legislation passed in the House of Representatives contains the $15 minimum wage provision that the Senate Parliamentarian ruled was not admissible under budget reconciliation.
Release from Congressman Michael Guest.