Virginia Republicans and Democrats Call for Bipartisan COVID-19 Relief Bill

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As Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) signals that a $908 billion relief bill will be ready for the Senate to consider soon, Virginia Republicans are calling for a similar bill in the House of Representatives. But Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) is warning leadership not to bundle it with a budget appropriations bill.

“Once again, congressional leadership finds itself expecting one enormous appropriations bill to address all the needs of the moment. The House should have followed regular order earlier and passed individual spending bills as the law demands,” Griffith said in a Tuesday press release.

Griffith said he supports a relief package under the right circumstances. “During a call with the Republican Conference, I urged our leadership to keep any coronavirus package separate from the anticipated omnibus measure funding the Federal Government. Of course, [Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12)] may have other ideas.

Representative Ben Cline (R-VA-06) also called for a relief package.

“There is no denying that the coronavirus and government-mandated lockdowns have caused real economic hardship for the American people and small businesses,” Cline said. “There is certainly a need for an additional relief bill, which is why Speaker Pelosi should immediately accept a targeted package that helps those individuals hardest hit by this virus, affords businesses liability protection from frivolous law suits, and continues the successful Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.”

Last week, Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-08) called for a relief package that would include funds to stave off layoffs at the Washington Metro, blaming Senate Republicans for blocking relief earlier in the year.

“The House passed a legislative package that addressed that problem and included $32 billion in transit funding in May, but [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)] has blocked additional aid. Senate Republicans’ obstruction is itself a crisis, and if it continues vast numbers of public sector workers will lose their jobs and Americans will see unimaginable and unnecessary cuts to services they depend on,” Beyer said.

However on Friday, Pelosi said in a press conference that Democratic leadership had deliberately blocked relief by insisting on a large relief bill unpalatable to Republicans earlier in the year. She is now supporting the smaller $908 billion Senate package as a place to start negotiations, according to The Federalist.

Asked why she is on board with an apparently smaller coronavirus package, Speaker Pelosi cites the “game-changer” of vaccine development and Biden’s election. “That’s OK now because we have a new president. A president who recognizes we need to depend on science,” Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein tweeted.

Cartoonist Scott Adams criticized Pelosi on Twitter. “Trump got impeached for allegedly withholding Ukraine aid for political reasons. Nancy Pelosi withheld coronavirus aid from American citizens for political reasons. She is a garbage human. Despicable,” Adams said.

McConnell has advocated a smaller $500 billion relief package, while Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said he wants to see more business protections built in to the relief bill.

Warner and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) coauthored a Washington Post op-ed calling for both sides to meet in the middle. They noted that $908 billion is far less than the trillions called for by House Democrats, and much larger than McConnell’s package.

They wrote, “We believe this compromise is necessary to provide urgently needed relief to the American people ahead of what will be, according to all the experts, a long and difficult winter.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

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