Georgia Rep. Hice votes against $484 billion coronavirus relief bill

Georgia Rep. Jody Hice was among five members of the U.S. House who voted “no” on a $484 billion coronavirus stimulus bill that included money to replenish the Payment Protection Program for small businesses.

Hice, a Republican from Monroe, released a statement late Thursday saying he is concerned about Congress spending money that increases the national debt even as these programs fail to keep pace with demand from struggling businesses and employees.

“For example, the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses ran through its original funding at an amazing pace, and this additional $310 billion will likely follow suit and run dry quickly,” Hice said.

In addition to Hice, the other “no” votes were Republican Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Ocasio-Cortez said that her district has been hit hard by the coronavirus and the bill did not do enough to protect small businesses or fund treatment and prevention measures.

In addition to adding $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, the legislation also allocates $75 million for health care providers and $25 billion for coronavirus testing.

Republicans had originally wanted the bill to include only the funding for small businesses, and they criticized Democrats for holding out until other dollars were included.

The Senate approved the legislation earlier this week, and President Donald Trump is expected to quickly sign it into law.

Although Hice was in favor of an initial round of $8.3 billion in funding to combat the spread of the coronavirus, he was one of 40 Republicans who voted against a second bill providing $192 billion in provisions like paid sick leave for employees affected by the virus and expanded access to food programs and other safety nets.

At the time, Hice and others said that they were unhappy with being left out of the negotiation process and that they did not have enough time to review the legislation before a vote.

Members of the House did not vote individually on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill approved in late March because it was passed by a voice vote in order to not penalize members who were affected by travel restrictions and shelter-in-place or quarantine orders.

Thursday's vote was essentially a supplement to that legislation. Members of the House, who had spent nearly a month working from home, were beckoned to Washington for an emergency session.

They voted in small groups to adhere to social distancing guidelines and most wore masks. The chambers were also disinfected between the stimulus vote and a prior one on establishing a new task force to provide oversight on coronavirus spending. That legislation was approved strictly along party lines with every Republican opposed.

Every other member of Georgia’s delegation except Hice voted “yes” on the stimulus bill except for U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who was not present. He is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

MORE: A map of coronavirus cases in Georgia

MORE: Real-time stats and the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak