MI lawmakers split on COVID-19 relief bill package


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its fifth month, Congress is trying to figure out what the next step is as it relates to another stimulus package.

Right now, Democrats in the House and Republicans in the Senate have two very different plans, both in detail and scope. Democrats support a plan to continue the weekly $600 unemployment supplement, while Republicans would scale that back to $200.

Support for state and local government would be significantly less under the GOP’s $1 trillion plan than the Democratic House’s $3 trillion plan.

Democratic Sen. Gary Peters and Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga talked about where the process is as of now.

Senator Peters says time has been wasted in the nearly two months since the House’s plan passed, and the current Senate offering does not address the needs of Michigan.

“We have to help our state and local governments as well. There’s nothing in the Republican package to help our state and local governments. I’m hearing from mayors all across the state — from the west side of the state as well as everywhere else — that this is putting a severe financial crunch that is going to make it difficult for them. As we look at opening schools in a safe way, we’ve got to make schools have the resources they need as well,” the senator said.

Huizenga’s concern is that spending is too far reaching and could even increase.

“What my fear is the $3 trillion program that the House had passed that I voted against — because I thought it was just every pet project and pet policy from the left — got loaded into this thing. So, an additional 3 trillion from the House, the Senate is proposing something around a trillion dollars and I’m afraid the way Washington works, they’re going to compromise at 4 trillion, meaning that they are going to take in everybody’s pet policies and pet projects.  I’m hoping we’ll be more discerning about that.”

Complicating matters even more is that the House and Senate are scheduled to go on August recess next week. Members could be called back into session if a deal can be reached between the House, the Senate and the White House.

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