From Music City to our rural communities, Tennessee is undoubtedly struggling in the wake of COVID-19. I regularly hear from musicians, business owners, and parents who make one thing abundantly clear—they are in urgent need of targeted, timely, and temporary relief.
Unfortunately, the new COVID “relief” plan touted by Washington Democrats falls far short of meeting that need. The legislation is more of a political wish list than an actual aid package. In fact, hundreds of billions of dollars in the $1.9 trillion package constitute spending totally unrelated to COVID relief.
Our nation should be moving towards reopening and recovery, but this legislation rewards states that remain closed and bankrolls non-essential policy initiatives backed by special interest groups. Politicians have packed it full of favors and pet projects: $50 million for family planning groups including Planned Parenthood, $50 million for climate justice, and $1 billion to develop a California Central Subway system are just a few of the more egregious line items. The plan has largely been portrayed as an essential step for national public health, although only a slim 6% of the total price tag is dedicated to COVID vaccines and other public health measures.
This effort to jam through radical policies at the expense of recovery proves just how out-of-touch proponents of the bill really are. Americans don’t need a fancy subway or a trip to the museum; they need aid that works to keep businesses open, education in-person, and food on the table.
Adding insult to injury, the bill also fails to account for unspent aid approved in previous relief packages. Remember: Congress has already passed $4 trillion in assistance, and hundreds of billions of dollars have yet to be spent.
Tennessee communities have joined together to support one another, but there is so much more we can do to ease the burden this pandemic has placed on families and businesses. As the budget reconciliation process moves over to the Senate this week, I will remain dedicated to putting the needs of my constituents ahead of the special interest groups represented in this latest irresponsible, overbroad spending bill.