Congressman Jim Costa had more than two trillion reasons to fly in and out of Washington, D.C., to cast a single vote Friday.
Costa (D-Fresno) took a red-eye flight Thursday night so he could vote for the $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help Americans cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
“We did the work for the American people, overwhelmingly bipartisan support on a voice vote,” Costa said. “Congress, now in three pieces of legislation, demonstrated to the American people that we can work together in a bipartisan fashion.”
Costa spoke with GV Wire as he was headed back to D.C.’s Dulles Airport and his flight back to Fresno.
However, when President Trump signed the bill later Friday, the ceremony in the White House was strictly partisan with only Republicans invited.
One of the largest bills ever, put together by republicans and democrats in a long, intense negotiation, and not a democrat in sight. https://t.co/35XF1qdUm6
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 27, 2020
Most Important for Valley
“We don’t have enough test kits to determine the magnitude of how the virus has spread in the Valley,” Costa said.
Worried that California’s COVID-19 infection rate could reach New York levels, Costa supported funding hospitals.
“But in two weeks, California could be ground zero and we need to have the infrastructure,” Costa said.
Costa said the “full faith and credit of the United States Treasury” would fund the bill, but “ultimately … this will add to our deficit and we’re going to have to address that. At this time, we have a national crisis and we have to respond.”
The congressman predicted a fourth aid bill next month to deal with businesses and workers affected by the crisis.
Specific Help for Farmers, Rural Communities
The package, which is officially the CARES Act, contains $9.5 billion in assistance for agriculture producers who have been impacted by COVID-19 along with a $14 billion replenishment to the Commodity Credit Corporation.
In addition, the legislation includes $100 million in ReConnect grants to expand access to broadband in rural America for educational purposes, business, and access to critical telehealth services.
Cox Supports, but Points to ‘Glaring Shortcomings’
Congressman TJ Cox (D-Fresno) supported the bill, but pointed out the bill’s flaws while speaking on the House floor.
“I’m disappointed about this bill’s glaring shortcomings which must be remedied in a future bill. This bill punishes mixed-status households and denies some American citizens benefits they deserve,” Cox said.
He did commend the legislation for not forcing his constituents to choose between paying rent and providing food.
Like Costa, Cox also flew in to Washington to specifically vote for the bill.
Josh Harder (D-Turlock) also spoke on the floor in support.
Valley Republicans Speak on Bill
Two Republicans in the San Joaquin Valley congressional delegation spoke on the House floor: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and Tom McClintock (R-Roseville).
“A few weeks ago, we learned about an invisible enemy from a distant land — an enemy like we had never faced before. Now, the virus is here. We didn’t invite it. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t choose it. But we will fight it together — until we win, together,” McCarthy said.
McClintock, whose district covers parts of Fresno and Madera counties and all of Mariposa County, criticized the bill.
“COVID-19 didn’t kill our economy. Government policies, however well-intentioned, did that in just a few weeks,” McClintock said on the floor. “They derailed the most promising and prosperous economy of our lifetimes and put us in imminent danger of permanently destroying millions of American jobs.”
McClintock said the “temporary job losses could become permanent” without federally guaranteed loans. Despite all that, McClintock called the passage of the bill “imperative. But it is no substitute for getting Americans back to work.”
House floor remarks this morning: pic.twitter.com/DtKE9ZEGp8
— Tom McClintock (@RepMcClintock) March 27, 2020