On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., sent a letter to the Florida congressional delegation urging them to vote against President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending package which now heads back to the U.S. House of Representatives following passing the U.S. Senate last week.
Scott’s letter is below.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-generation crisis that has presented Americans with unprecedented challenges. In 2020, Congress took repeated bipartisan action to tackle this crisis, allocating over $4 trillion to secure vaccines and provide needed relief to individuals and small businesses. However, the completely partisan approval of President Biden’s massive, wasteful and untargeted $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan Act” is one of the most shameful and political moves ever made by Congress. This bill isn’t about COVID-19 relief. In fact, this morning, POLITICO called the bill, “the greatest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ.”
We can’t forget that this spending package increases our already massive and unsustainable debt from $28 trillion to $30 trillion. That will have devastating impacts, ranging from runaway inflation to rising interest rates, which hurt Florida’s poorest families the most. Sadly, the Biden Administration has no plan to address it.
It is for these reasons and others that I write to you today to urge you to vote against this bill when it returns to the U.S. House of Representatives – something that a majority of you have already done in recognition of its flawed process and substance. Congress has the responsibility to thoroughly review how every single tax dollar is spent by the federal government and make sure that we are spending Americans’ money wisely. It is time for every member of this delegation to stand up and do your job.
President Biden announced his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending plan on January 20, 2021 – the same day he stood at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol and pledged to pursue unity in his approach to governing on behalf of the American people. As we all now know, that pledge lasted just 10 days. In early February, Congressional Democrats made clear they planned to push for approval of this massive bill without bipartisan scrutiny or input.
In the Senate, Biden’s bill received zero committee references – shutting Republicans completely out of the lawmaking process. Further, Democrats rushed and used the budget reconciliation process, which allowed the more than 600-page bill to move to the floor for a vote before any member was even given the opportunity to read the text. It’s unbelievable. The Florida families we all represent deserve better than this from Congress.
Ever since this pandemic started, I have wanted the federal government to step in and help those who were hurting and had lost their jobs. I completely agree that we need to do more to help families and small businesses that continue to suffer from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. I grew up in public housing and watched my parents struggle to find work and make ends meet. I never want a family to go through what mine did growing up. Further COVID-19 relief is needed, but it has to be targeted. We have to consider our debt and do only what is necessary for Floridians in need. That’s not what this bill does.
This bill is bad for Florida. Not only does it commit Florida taxpayers to unnecessary and wasteful bailouts of poorly-run liberal states, it also unfairly punishes our state with less federal support for keeping unemployment below the unimaginable levels we’ve seen in Democrat-run states. The funding formulas throughout the bill benefit New York and California at the expense of states like Florida. This comes as a last minute and unexplained move last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics exacerbated the issue, revising Florida’s unemployment rate for December 2020 down an entire percentage point from 6.1% to 5.1%. Furthermore, the fact that less than 10% of this monstrosity of a bill goes toward fighting COVID-19 and less than 1% is dedicated to vaccines is an insult to the Floridians still struggling to recover from this pandemic. We can and must do better.
I hope that you will reject this bloated, wasteful and partisan bill and commit to working together with the many members of the U.S. Senate seeking to craft a targeted plan which provides needed funding to support small businesses, helps unemployed Floridians with enhanced federal assistance and supports the continued manufacture and distribution of the life-saving vaccines now being delivered to millions of Americans every day.