WASHINGTON D.C. — $1400 stimulus checks, funding for vaccine distribution and a windfall of money for cash-strapped local governments. What’s not to like about the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill?
While Democrats are lauding the signing as a landmark achievement, Republicans are concerned with the long-term economic impact and the massive cost.
“I'm deeply concerned that we're going to be dealing with long term negative fallout from this, from a macroeconomic sense I think we could see a return of inflation.” U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) told FOX 17.
Meijer says while there are some good components to the American Rescue Plan Act, it’s not completely targeted to address COVID specifically.
“It was more of an omnibus appropriation where it's using the excuse of ‘we need COVID relief, we need to help folks out.’ and I agree, but then layering in all sorts of unrelated, unnecessary items that frankly are dealing with fiscal mismanagement issues that long preceded COVID, and certainly haven't gotten better, but also are not tied to reopening schools or reopening our economy, or getting us back to where we were,” Meijer said.
The biggest gripe is in what GOP lawmakers are calling a bailout for blue states, the several hundred billion dollars for state and local governments facing budget shortfalls and pension problems.
Meijer’s hometown of Grand Rapids is expecting to get upwards of $50 million to help with a projected $20 million budget shortfall they’re facing.
“I’ve fielded calls from county level officials saying how much money are we getting?” Meijer explained.
“I mean, you look at what the revenue shortfall, there are states getting money from this, billions of dollars who are turning budget surpluses because they haven't been as negatively impacted as they thought and other cities are receiving three to four times the amount of money that they lost,” Meijer said.
The freshman GOP congressman introduced his own plan that would raise the dollar amount of stimulus checks to $2400 and mirror the money spent on vaccines and testing, while also cutting the total cost of the package by more than half.
He says there was no effort from House Dems to include any Republican input.
“We tried modifying the bill so that we were again, targeting the need and those opportunities were rebuffed. There was no willingness to negotiate or engage in any sort of bipartisan fashion,” Meijer said.
“There was very little logic in terms of tailoring this to the needs of the country and get through the pandemic, and much more about rewarding groups that had helped President Biden get elected,” he added.
The American Rescue Plan Act passed the House and Senate without a single Republican vote.