GOP Lawmakers Want to Put a Pause on Federal Spending, Fine-Tune Previous Funding Programs

May 26, 2020 Updated: May 27, 2020

Republican lawmakers have become unnerved by the huge economic debt created by the pandemic and say they do not support the latest House-passed “HEROES Act.” Republicans and some moderate Democrats say they would rather fine-tune the financial aid packages that have already been approved, rather than spend more money at this time.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) wants to give states more flexibility by reworking some CCP virus funding previously passed by the federal government. Kennedy recently commented on the HEROES Act while on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“It’s not going to pass the Senate, nor should it,” Kennedy said. The senator has introduced his own amendment to the previous relief funding package.

Kennedy’s legislation would allow state and local governments to use the $150 billion in funding provided to them in the CCP virus relief package signed in late March, for operating expenses not associated with the CCP virus.

“The advantage of my bill is it wouldn’t cost any new money. The disadvantage is some of my colleagues, think that it will bail out so-called mismanaged states,” Kennedy told Fox News.

Many Republicans in Washington are against the HEROES Act because it contains nearly a trillion dollars to bail out local and state governments that many say mismanaged their states’ finances well before the pandemic.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) worries about states like California getting additional taxpayer money when their administration provided healthcare benefits to undocumented immigrants and gave $100 million in funding for Planned Parenthood.

“We need to put brakes on spending for a while,” Rep. Glen Grothman (R-Wis.) said about the act to Seehafernews. “At the rate we are going, we are only going to leave our children with a huge amount of debt.”

Republicans think the act will add to the national debt while funding measures not related to CCP virus relief, like vote-by-mail, funding Planned Parenthood, and bailing out the United States Postal Service.

“Giving money to Planned Parenthood, creating marijuana diversity studies, and permanently rewriting our nation’s election laws have nothing to do with the challenges we are currently facing and certainly do not help West Michigan job creators or their employees,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) from the House floor in May.

House Democrats on May 15 approved the $3 trillion HEROES Act which includes another direct payment to each American, as well as nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments. The measure was approved by a vote of 208-199 over the opposition of Republicans as well as some moderate and progressive Democrats.

Meanwhile the House will vote Wednesday on two important adjustments to the previous aid packages. The first one is the Payroll Protection Program Flexibility Act and the second is the Taxpayers at Home (TRUTH) Act.

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act is co-led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas). This legislation makes changes to the PPP, allowing the funding to be much more accessible to hard-hit small businesses. The leaders of the bill say the reforms are the product of constituents’ feedback from small business owners and restaurateurs.

The changes include allowing the forgiveness period to go from 2 months to 6 months; the removal of the 75/25 rule; the elimination of restrictions limiting the loan terms of 2 years; and expanded forgiveness for businesses unable to rehire due to the continuing pandemic.

“This bill gives them the flexibility to make it work for their business, be able to take the loan, stay afloat, until we can achieve the goal, you’re outlining, get people back in the restaurants, get people back in hotels,” said Roy.

The bipartisan TRUTH Act would oblige the Small Business Administration (SBA) to disclose details about where small business relief money is going. The bill would require the SBA to provide this information on loans over $2 million and justify those decisions.

“Our jobs are to listen and to our constituents and small businesses … and I’ve done that both in Texas and Minnesota,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.).

“It won’t matter how much money we appropriate if the distribution mechanisms are broken. Congress now has an opportunity to fix what’s broken and make this important relief program more accessible and usable to the small businesses that need it the most,” said Phillips.

“I am encouraged by the bipartisan cooperation of my colleagues in the House and Senate, and look forward to working with them to push these reforms over the finish line without delay. Every day counts, and time cannot be wasted,” added Phillips.