Donning masks and voting in small groups to avoid close contact, most members of Colorado’s congressional delegation voted Thursday to approve a nearly half-trillion-dollar bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn.
The bill was approved in the U.S. House by a vote of 388-5, with one “present” vote. Within the Colorado delegation, all four Democrats voted in favor, along with two Republicans. Rep. Ken Buck was the lone Coloradan to vote nay on the bill.
Buck, a Windsor Republican, has voted against every major coronavirus response bill, citing their high costs. During a KOA radio interview before the vote Thursday, he warned of extremely dire consequences if the nation careens off a fiscal cliff.
“When we are no longer fiscally sound — when we can’t expect multi-national corporations or foreign countries to buy our debt — the death toll at that point will be much, much larger than any death toll that was predicted as a result of this pandemic,” said Buck, who is also chair of the Colorado Republican Party.
The $484 billion legislation is the fourth major coronavirus response bill to pass Congress since March. It includes more than $300 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, which allows struggling businesses to keep employees on payroll. The bill also sets aside $60 billion for small business loans and grants, $75 billion for hospitals and about $25 billion for COVID-19 testing.
“While some small businesses in our community were able to access the Paycheck Protection Program, many more were shut out,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver. “Let’s be clear: Large corporations never should have been allowed to receive funds meant for small businesses. We must ensure this new round of funding goes to those businesses most in need.”
“To be clear, this interim package does not go nearly far enough in my view, and Congress must do more — now,” said Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette. “As we continue negotiations on doing precisely that, this interim package will ensure our small businesses can continue to access emergency grants and loans and that our hospitals can continue to care for individuals with COVID-19.”
The bill was unanimously passed by the Senate on Tuesday. Republicans criticized Democrats for delaying the vote by adding more money to the bill. Democrats say they improved it by adding funds for testing and aid to hospitals.
The House also voted Thursday to create a new subcommittee to investigate the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The bipartisan panel, led by Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, will have subpoena power and broad jurisdiction to investigate what went right and what went wrong.
That vote was 212-182 with all Colorado Democrats in favor and all Colorado Republicans opposed. Democrats believe the panel is necessary to better understand the government’s response. Republicans believe it is superfluous and will be used to dig up dirt on the president before the election in November.
“The select committee on the COVID-19 response is yet another political hit job on President Donald Trump,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, noting Clyburn is a supporter of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
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