When the U.S. House took a late-night vote on a economic relief bill in response to the coronavirus outbreak, two Georgia lawmakers were among the 40 Republicans who opposed it.
Not long after the tally was posted early Saturday morning, the phrase “40 Republicans” began trending on Twitter. Many people questioned why these members would oppose a multi-billion stimulus intended to help families and businesses affected by the viral pandemic.
Georgia Reps. Jody Hice of Monroe and Barry Loudermilk of Cassville both released statements saying their vote was less about the content of the bill and more about the process. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and her deputies negotiated directly with the White House.
Hice and Loudermilk both said they disagreed with GOP members being left out of the process that led to a late-night vote on a measure. They said they were given little time to review it and still had questions.
“Following the back-and-forth, on-again, off-again negotiations, Members of Congress were not given the opportunity to even read the legislation before Pelosi forced a vote, and no cost estimate had been prepared,” Hice said in a statement.
“The new mandates and provisions of this legislation are wide-ranging and could have significant unintended consequences, requiring time to consider their full impact,” he continued. “Pelosi should have allowed Members at least 24 hours to examine the bill's contents.”
The bill calls for two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of family and medical leave for those affected by COVID-19, provides $500 million to expand the food stamp program, $400 million to assist food banks, ensures children who rely on school lunches to continue receiving meals and requires health insurance to cover the cost of coronavirus testing.
Both Hice and Loudermilk mentioned that this relief measure was Congress’ second action to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, more than $8 billion in emergency spending to help hospitals and public health entity combat the spread of the virus was approved.
There was no need to rush a vote on the new legislation that Pelosi negotiated with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Loudermilk said.
“A bill of this importance, magnitude, and cost deserved very careful consideration,” Loudermilk said in a statement. “We could have, and should have, had an open and transparent process, and possibly worked on through the weekend. With so many unanswered questions about the bill, and so little time to review it, I couldn’t justify in my heart to put my name down as doing something good for the American people, when I couldn’t ensure them that it was.”
» THE LATEST: Complete coverage of coronavirus in Georgia
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