Senators Bill Cassidy, John Kennedy vote against COVID-19 relief bill that includes $1,400 checks
Louisiana Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy joined all of their GOP colleagues in voting against the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that passed the Senate Saturday and will deliver $1,400 direct payments to most Americans.
Cassidy, Kennedy and the other Republicans criticized the bill as being bloated with funding unrelated to COVID relief.
It passed in a partisan 50-49 vote, with all 50 Democrats voting in favor.
"I wanted to support a bill that targeted aid to those impacted by the pandemic," Cassidy said in a statement. "Instead, Democrats rammed through a bill that wastes hundreds of billions of dollars on pet projects that have nothing to do with the pandemic and puts our economy at risk of inflation.”
Kennedy previously called the bill "an orgy of pork."
"We can do better," he said in an earlier tweet.
Democrats back home in Louisiana blasted the state's two GOP senators.
"Republican Senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy chose party politics over helping the people of Louisiana," Louisiana Democratic Party Chairwoman Katie Bernhardt said. "In 2017, they enthusiastically supported the biggest corporate tax cuts in history. Today, they opposed the American Rescue plan, which provides more direct aid to the American people than any bill in decades and helps us defeat this pandemic so we can return to normal."
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The bill returns to the House next week for final adjustments before being sent to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law.
Among key provisions, the bill:
► Provides most Americans earning up to $75,000 a $1,400 stimulus check.
► Extends a $300 weekly federal boost to unemployment benefits until Sept. 6.
► Sends $350 billion to state and local governments whose revenue has declined because of COVID-19's impact on the economy.
► Allocates $130 billion to help fully reopen schools and colleges.
► Allots $30 billion to help renters and landlords weather economic losses.
► Devotes $50 billion for small-business assistance.
► Dedicates $160 billion for vaccine development, distribution and related needs.
► Expands the child tax credit up to $3,600 per child.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.