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All of Wisconsin's Congressional Republicans vote against second COVID-19 relief package
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All of Wisconsin's Congressional Republicans vote against second COVID-19 relief package

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A long-awaited second COVID-19 relief package, which includes direct payments of up to $600 to most Americans and comes attached to a massive $1.4 trillion spending bill, was largely supported by both parties Monday — but not Wisconsin’s GOP members.

All six of Wisconsin’s Republican congressional members voted against the relief package, several of which cited it as rushed legislation. The package ultimately passed the U.S. House and Senate on Monday and heads to President Donald Trump for his signature, which he has put in doubt.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who last week blocked an effort to pass a second round of COVID-19 aid that included up to $1,200 in direct payments to some, on Monday joined five other GOP Senators to vote against the latest proposal — a $900 billion pandemic relief package accompanied by a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill.

The bill would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

“This monstrosity was 5,593 pages long, and passed only nine hours after the Senate first saw it,” Johnson said in a statement. “It will be weeks, maybe months, before we begin to understand all that has been included. I simply could not support this dysfunction, so I voted no.”

The bill passed the GOP-led Senate in a 92-6 vote, with no Democratic members opposed. The bill also passed the Democratic-controlled House earlier in the day with a 359-53 vote, with all five of Wisconsin’s Republican members — Bryan Steil, James Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman, Tom Tiffany and Mike Gallagher — voting against it.

Tiffany said in a statement a COVID-19 relief bill should have passed on its own months ago, something the Hazelhurst Republican said he would have supported.

“What is happening in Washington has become an annual, instant-replay train wreck in the eyes of most Americans — whose elected representatives have little input on the debt being charged up on the nation’s credit card,” Tiffany said. “Americans deserve a real say in how their money is spent.”

In a statement, Steil, R-Janesville, described Monday’s vote representative of “the dysfunction in Washington.”

“Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi gave us roughly six hours to read a 5,600-page bill spending trillions of dollars,” he said. “The bill is far too broad and falls short of providing targeted relief to those who are struggling. We can do better.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, Ron Kind and Gwen Moore voted in favor of the bill.

“Wisconsin needs help and it’s essential that Congress provide some now before the end of the year,” Baldwin said in a statement. “But our job is not done responding to this public health and economic crisis. In January, we need to come back and start working together with the Biden Administration to provide federal support to Wisconsin that working families, our state, and local communities are going to need next year to get past this deadly pandemic and build back better.”

Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a statement the bill “lays the groundwork for a smooth COVID-19 vaccine rollout and a robust economic recovery.”

“While there’s light at the end of the tunnel as COVID-19 vaccines continue to be distributed across the country, people are currently facing serious economic challenges,” Kind said. “While I’m glad to see Congress come together and work across the aisle to pass this legislation, this process was unnecessarily painful, and relief for Wisconsinites is long overdue.”

Journal Times reporter Adam Rogan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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