Minnesota Congressman Pete Stauber on Tuesday announced that he too voted in favor of passing the $900 billion pandemic relief package.
“I am proud to have played a role in crafting this legislation’s framework and I look forward to seeing countless Americans benefit,” Stauber said in a statement.
Earlier in the week, Congress passed the relief package that would finally deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. The relief package sped through the House and Senate in a matter of hours. The Senate cleared the package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it by another lopsided vote, 359-53. The tallies were a bipartisan coda to months of partisanship and politicking, a logjam that broke after President-elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked.
The bill approved on Monday night has gone to President Donald Trump for his signature, which was expected in the coming days.
The 5,593-page legislation — by far the longest bill ever — came together Sunday after months of battling, posturing and postelection negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached. Biden was eager for a deal to deliver long-awaited help to suffering people and a boost to the economy, even though it was less than half the size that Democrats wanted in the fall.
Democrats promised more aid to come once Biden takes office, but Republicans were signaling a wait-and-see approach.
Progress came after a bipartisan group of pragmatists and moderates devised a $908 billion plan that built a middle-ground position that the top four leaders of Congress — the GOP and Democratic leaders of both the House and Senate — used as the basis for their talks. The lawmakers urged leaders on both sides to back off of hardline positions.
Republicans were most intent on reviving the Paycheck Protection Program with $284 billion, which would cover a second round of PPP grants to especially hard-hit businesses. Democrats won set-asides for low-income and minority communities.
The sweeping bill also contains $25 billion in rental assistance, $15 billion for theaters and other live venues, $82 billion for local schools, colleges and universities, and $10 billion for child care.
Stauber, the Republican congressman who serves the spanning Eighth District in northeastern Minnesota, took credit for being part of the “Problem Solvers Caucus” involved with requesting “this package includes commonsense provisions to unleash more Paycheck Protection Program funds, end surprise medical billing, facilitate the safe reopening of schools and childcare centers, expand broadband services, address the dramatic rise in substance abuse, and assist with the rapid deployment of vaccines.”
“I am proud to have played a role in crafting this legislation’s framework and I look forward to seeing countless Americans benefit.”
Despite his pronounced optimism, Stauber said in a statement that “this agreement is long overdue.” He blamed the slowness of federal relief on Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California.
The bill combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses. It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.
On direct payments, the bill provides $600 to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 to couples making up to $150,000, with payments phased out for higher incomes. An additional $600 payment will be made per dependent child, similar to the last round of relief payments in the spring.
The $300 per week bonus federal jobless benefit was half that provided under the $1.8 trillion CARES Act in March. The direct $600 stimulus payment was also half the March payment.
The CARES Act was credited with keeping the economy from falling off a cliff during widespread lockdowns in the spring, but Republicans controlling the Senate cited debt concerns in pushing against Democratic demands.
Stauber calls out Minnesota governor
The congressman said in his statement that “while the passage of this bipartisan relief package is a monumental step in the right direction, we are not yet out of the woods.”
He continued, “The enormity of this bill points to the obvious – America needs to get back to work and our economy cannot continue to take these endless shutdowns. As more federal funds and vaccines are distributed across the state, I along with an overwhelming majority of my constituents will continue to pressure [Gov. Tim Walz] to allow our small businesses and schools to safely reopen. It’s past time for the governor to level the playing field and allow our small businesses to play by the same rules as major corporations.”
His comments came roughly a week after Walz announced the statewide extension of some restrictions on bars and restaurants and other businesses suffering financial hits during the pandemic. The Minnesota Health Department has reported a slowdown in the number of coronavirus cases since the first round of restrictions were implemented.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.