President Donald Trump reached a compromise with Congressional leadership on a Coronavirus bill, but Wisconsin’s Republican congressional representation still voted no.
The bill passed the House of Representatives 363-40. All 40 “no” votes were from Republicans. On Twitter, Trump praised the bipartisan vote to pass the bill.
Despite the president’s support for the bill, Wisconsin’s Republicans remained skeptical. All four Wisconsin Republicans in the House voted “no,” and it appears Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) may be a “no” vote next week in the U.S. Senate.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI8) said he could not support the bill that passed the House of Representatives because of the flaws and the short time frame for the bill’s consideration.
“This bill, while well-intentioned, contains a number of unclear provisions that could force small businesses in Northeast Wisconsin to lay off workers or cause them to close their doors altogether. To concede, as both sides did, that the bill had serious flaws that would need to be fixed by to-be-determined Executive Branch regulations is legislative malpractice, and that’s not to mention the fact we received this bill at 12:03am and voted nearly 15 minutes later.
“Let me be clear: H.R. 6201 contained a number of good provisions like free testing that we’ve already successfully fought for. But I have serious questions as to whether the best way to support those needing paid and sick leave is through tax credits to small businesses instead of direct payments to those affected. In times like these, we have to do better than rushed closed-door deals that could create more problems than solutions. We had more time to get this right, and the fact Speaker Pelosi is now allowing the House take a week-long vacation is unconscionable. We all agree those living paycheck to paycheck should’t have to decide between going to work or endangering their coworkers, but we need a solution that doesn’t cause severe and unintended economic damage.”
Gallagher added he hopes the U.S. Senate fixes the bill.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI5) said he supported past efforts, but could not support this bill.
“Last week, I voted for $8 billion in supplemental funding to fight the coronavirus. Yesterday, President Trump declared a national emergency, freeing up $50 billion in order to address this crisis.”
“Early this morning, the full text of H.R. 6201 was presented to House members with less than 30 minutes to review 100-plus pages of bill text. We do not know the full cost of this legislation. I am not a fan of passing bills to find out what is in them. I hope the United States Senate is able to review and address the issues with this bill on Monday. We must deal with this outbreak in a measured and responsible way.”
Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI1) criticized the speed with which the bill was passed.
“I’m working with the Administration as we address coronavirus. I supported $8.3 billion in federal emergency funds to help states combat the coronavirus outbreak and accelerate testing. These funds are currently at work assisting those on the front lines fighting the pandemic. I also support President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency which releases an additional $50 billion to address our situation. Further, I support the new public-private partnership President Trump announced on Friday to improve testing capabilities and overall testing speed. It is critical we continue to improve our testing capabilities. Last night’s bill, which was released shortly before midnight and voted on an hour later, places a heavy government mandate on Wisconsin small businesses that are already suffering negative consequences from coronavirus. We need to support job creators, not penalize them. I will continue working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to address the ongoing pandemic.”
In an interview Saturday night with RightWisconsin, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI6) said the short time given to consider of the bill and the unknown costs of the bill were the reasons for his “no” vote in the early hours of Saturday morning. He said he was particularly concerned because the Congressional Budget Office was not able to estimate the impact of the family leave mandate on small businesses.
Grothman said his office would be issuing a full statement Monday.
As the bill heads to the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin’s Senator Ron Johnson issued the following statement:
“President Trump has shown decisive leadership by restricting travel, declaring a national emergency, and forging a public-private partnership on testing. As the country works together to get through the challenges caused by the coronavirus, Congress must be thoughtful in its efforts to support workers and their employers.
“To reduce the coronavirus’ spread, we don’t want sick people feeling economic pressure to go in to work. Small businesses are especially going to feel the burden of this pandemic, with a growing list of canceled events and business shutdowns. We don’t want to cause further economic harm by passing bad legislation.
“Although mandating that all employers must pay for sick leave might sound good, we need to consider the unintended consequences of this legislation. I fear that rather than offering a workable solution, the House bill will exacerbate the problem by forcing small businesses to pay wages they cannot afford and ‘helping’ them go further into debt.
“A better way to address the situation and support workers who may be out due to illness or quarantine is to use existing state unemployment funds to accomplish the objective: Temporarily change laws to allow for this use, waive waiting periods, and have the federal government plus up the payments to equal lost wages.
“I hope the Senate will approach this with a level head and pass a bill that does more good than harm – or, if it won’t, pass nothing at all. The president and states already have adequate authority and funding to address the current situation.”