With the apparent support of all but one Coloradan, the U.S. House passed the largest economic stimulus package in American history Friday, a more than $2 trillion agreement to boost a national economy ravaged by coronavirus.
The bill passed on a voice vote, a tactic used for uncontroversial legislation. As a result, House members were not required to record where they stood on the historic bill. But in comments before, only one Coloradan signaled opposition.
“I agree we are facing an unprecedented emergency, one tied directly to China’s nefarious actions. However, as President Trump said, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” said Rep. Ken Buck in a speech on the House floor.
Buck, a Windsor Republican, criticized several provisions in the bill this week, including $75 million for public broadcasting, $50 million for museums and libraries, and $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He critiqued a pro-union provision and a section granting all cities access to law enforcement grants, even if they have restrictions on immigration enforcement.
“There is no attempt by Congress to reduce spending elsewhere in the budget to pay for this bill. The sad truth is that most of this money in this bill is unrelated to fighting the coronavirus. We believe that the fight against the virus will take six to eight weeks, yet this bill spends money decades into the future,” added Buck, who is the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, during his remarks Friday.
Among the many provisions in the massive bill is a $150 billion relief fund for state, tribal and local governments. Colorado will receive an estimated $2.2 billion from the fund, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Much more money will come to Colorado through other provisions in the bill.
Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Jason Crow and Ed Perlmutter said this week that they supported the bill, which will now be signed into law.
“No bill is ever a perfect bill, especially when you have to put something of this magnitude together so quickly, but what’s important about it is it’s helping stabilize the working families and the small businesses in my district,” said DeGette, who represents Denver, in an interview Thursday.
Neguse, of Lafayette, agreed the bill was not perfect but said in a speech Friday that it was necessary to bring relief to the health care professionals, the millions of unemployed workers, and the small businesses ailing across the United States.
“Our country and the American people are in crisis and it requires our action now,” said Crow, of Aurora, in a speech on the House floor Friday. “To be clear, this is not a perfect bill, but it is the bill that America needs today.”
Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez, said the bill was expensive but necessary.
“I am obviously deeply cautious about the staggering cost, but the cost of inaction today means putting a price tag on lives tomorrow,” the congressman said in a statement. “I am proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the president in doing what is necessary to support the American people and position our economy to make a strong recovery once we defeat this terrible virus.”
The bill passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday. Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, both voted in favor.
Join our Facebook group for updates on coronavirus in Colorado.