Georgia Democrats join U.S. House majority in advancing COVID relief bill

AJC's Tia Mitchell breaks down how the Coronavirus Relief Bill will impact Georgia. Video by Ryon Horne

WASHINGTON — Georgia’s six Democrats all voted in favor of President Joe Biden’s top priority, a coronavirus relief bill that passed the U.S. House in the early hours of Saturday morning without a single Republican vote.

Two Democrats, one each from Maine and Oregon, and every House Republican were opposed to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The final tally was 219-212.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux said she supported the package because it provides money to ramp up vaccine distribution, issues direct $1,400 stimulus checks to families and lends additional aid to businesses dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to a $7.5 billion boost for the Paycheck Protection Program, the bill also calls for $25 billion in grants to restaurants and bars.

ExploreLatest COVID relief bill promises billions in new funding to Georgia

“We’re in danger of losing the fabulous and vibrant restaurant industry we have in the Atlanta metro area unless we support them through this,” said Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee, prior to the vote.

The House kept in a provision that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour despite a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian that it violates the budget reconciliation process being used to avoid a GOP filibuster on the bill.

Biden’s goal is to sign a relief measure into law before March 14 when certain benefits are set to expire

Republicans have criticized the American Rescue Plan as oversized and stuffed with nonessential items that they believe are not needed because the economy is showing signs of recovery. U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, released a statement that said most of the spending in the bill is about advancing progressive causes and not in direct response to COVID-19.

“The Payoff to Progressives Act doesn’t incentivize schools to reopen, fails to encourage people to re-enter the workforce and doesn’t provide pandemic relief,” he said.

Democrats are prepared to move forward even if not a single Republican joins them. Coronavirus stimulus is popular among voters; 76% of Georgians polled last month supported another round of direct checks.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop in a statement after the vote noted the death toll during the coronavirus outbreak has surpassed 500,000 people. More needs to be done to help American families and businesses, he said.

“The most vulnerable communities have borne the brunt of this pandemic,” the Albany Democrat said. “We have a duty to respond and help the American people recover.”

HOW THEY VOTED ON H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan

“Yes”

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta

“No”

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton

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