House Democrat who initially voted against coronavirus relief bill says he’ll vote for Senate version
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) announced on Monday that he will vote for the American Rescue Plan the Senate passed on Saturday along party lines after voting against the initial version of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which went through the House last month.
“Tomorrow I will be voting in favor of the American Rescue Plan to provide targeted assistance across this country,” Schrader wrote on Facebook. “My concerns remain on the size and scope of this bill but believe the Senate changes provide meaningful relief for Oregonians in need.”
He continued, “Funding for our local governments, small businesses, schools, families, healthcare providers and an extension on unemployment benefits will be a lifeline for many. And investing in vaccine distribution, testing and development is critical at this juncture when coupled with President Biden’s accelerated vaccine production. There is much work to do moving forward and passing this legislation is an important step.”
The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed the House on Feb. 27 with a slim vote of 219-212 that included no Republicans in favor. Only two Democrats voted against the legislation: Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Schrader.
In an interview with KGW News after the vote, Schrader said that he did not support the passage of the bill because there was “no legislative process.”
“We were presented with a 1.9 trillion dollar bill, not allowed or encouraged to offer amendments,” he said. “The voice of the elected representatives was not heard in this package at all. It was a take it or leave it approach. Every other COVID package that we’ve done not only has been bi-partisan but has gone through an extensive vetting process.”
Schrader was also against the bill because it included a $15 minimum wage increase, one of the provisions stripped out in the upper chamber.
“I’d argue respectfully as a small businessman for 30 plus years, there’s not a small businessman or woman out there that thinks raising the minimum wage in the middle of a pandemic, when we’re trying to get them to hire people, makes sense, particularly in struggling restaurant and hospitality industries,” Schrader said. “That makes no sense at all.”
While the overall price tags remain the same, there are some differences between the package the House passed in February and the legislation the Senate approved on Saturday. Federal unemployment insurance payments were reduced from $400 to $300 a week and will be available through Sept. 6 rather than the end of August.
In addition, the phaseout to determine who will receive direct $1,400 relief payments was lowered from $100,000 to $80,000 for individuals and from $200,000 to $160,000 for joint filers.
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