WASHINGTON D.C. — Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing forward to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill with or without bipartisan support.
“I think this flies in the face of the message of unity that President Biden spoke about in his inauguration,” Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids tells FOX 17.
Meijer accuses Democrats of trying to ‘short circuit' the legislative process, as they take the first steps to pass the relief bill using the budget reconciliation process.
“This isn't about finding a consensus. This is all about just ramming through a process, a highly partisan wish list of items such as those minimum wage raises, bailouts to blue states, that don't really have anything to do with the pandemic, but they are seizing on this opportunity to put it through,” Meijer said.
"I've been supportive of what we can do to help out our municipalities and our states but if we're not doing that on a per capita basis all we're doing is rewarding those who were mismanaging their finances to begin with."
"In addition, this package has a mandatory federal minimum wage raise to $15. Now that's something that big companies like Amazon have been calling for because they've already reached that limit, what that's going to do is it's going to cripple small businesses," Meijer added.
Most Republicans are in favor of continued support for vaccines, testing and small business relief and some form of stimulus checks, but like Meijer argue the full impact from the last COVID relief package hasn't been seen yet.
“There's still a trillion dollars in allocated funds from that stimulus package that have not been spent. We have a lot of gas in the tank when it comes to continuing to support a lot of the programs that have been put out there,” Meijer said.
“We need to be focusing on first and foremost front loading vaccine production and distribution, rather than some of the other kind of wish-list items in this including hundreds of billions of dollars in essentially bailout money to blue states that were mismanaging their finances before COVID came into effect.” Meijer added.
President Biden has been speaking with Republican Senators, who on Monday outlined a counter proposal with $618 billion in spending, more than a trillion dollars smaller than his.
His administration hasn’t wavered in what they want, as Democratic lawmakers emphasize the importance of getting more relief to Americans as soon as possible.
"Democrats know that families need a bold plan to combat the pandemic, address the economic crisis, and get children back to school safely. We're ready to pass the American Rescue Plan and get our country back on track," Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan said.
"The risk here, as [President Biden] said many times, is not going too big, it is going too small. He supports the efforts by Senator Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi to move this package forward,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
Congressman Meijer will host his first virtual town hall February 3 at 7:30 p.m. to answer questions from constituents, to sign up click here.