Illinois’ House delegation backs coronavirus stimulus bill, but some say more will be needed

2020-03-27 | Chicago Tribune

March 27--Illinois’ House delegation overwhelmingly supported the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that passed in a voice vote Friday and will provide assistance to unemployed workers, a beleaguered medical community and a fiscally troubled state forced to use scarce resources to fight the pandemic.

But several members warned that additional legislation will be needed as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to expand and potentially vulnerable populations need assistance.

Rep. Jesus “Chuy� Garcia, a Chicago Democrat, said he voted for the measure but said despite steps to help workers, the health care system and the economy, it “does not include everything it should have.�

“I am disappointed that (it) did not address the needs of some immigrants and provide larger checks to families,� Garcia said.

“The exclusion of the undocumented from this bill weighs heavily on my heart. Everyone should be protected. While we secured coverage for virus testing and treatment, the Senate majority excluded them from the financial relief provided to others,� he said.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston, a member of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team, said “there is still much left undone� in the legislation.

“These are challenging times for people across the Chicagoland area, our state, our nation and the world," she said. In a statement after voting for the measure, she credited Pelosi for adding oversight provisions requiring accountability of funds used to assist corporations. Absent those provisions, she said, the legislation was a “non-starter.�

Democratic Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville said he voted for the measure, saying he was “glad that Congress continues to enact strong, bipartisan relief measures to help the American people in the midst of this unprecedented crisis.�

Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield said he voted for the measure to “get urgently needed critical resources to our health care providers, workers and families, Main Street businesses, and state and local governments on the frontlines of this crisis.�

“This expansive $2 trillion bill, which is the result of intense negotiations between both parties, is not perfect, but I am confident the hard work and commitment of House Democrats made sure the bill gave first priority to those who need our help the most,� he said.

Rep. Cheri Bustos of Moline, who also heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said she backed the bill and that the “bold legislative package will support workers who have lost their jobs, help feed children whose families face uncertain financial futures and build a stronger foundation for the farmers who feed the world as our nation weathers this storm.�

“No bill is ever perfect,� she added, “but this bipartisan agreement is a significant step forward in delivering relief.�

Freshman Democratic Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove also traveled to Washington for the vote, an aide said.

Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria, among Republican members of the delegation who traveled to Washington, also including Reps. Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Mike Bost of Murphysboro, said he applauded the “swift and decisive action to support workers and families.�

“While I have real concerns about some provisions in the bill, as well as the massive amount of deficit spending, I am also worried about delaying support for millions of hurting Americans and the prospect of a costly recession for our country,� LaHood said.

“No compromise is perfect and this pandemic requires each of us to put aside our differences and provide relief for Illinoisans and Americans,� he said.

Because the action came on a voice vote, it was not immediately clear which members of the delegation did not travel to Washington amid concerns of the threat of COVID-19 contagion.

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon stayed in Illinois after he and his wife began experiencing mild symptoms on March 15 and opted to stay in isolation until Sunday, an aide said.

In a statement, Kinzinger said he supported House passage of the measure, though he questioned “the hit to our national debt.�

“But these are trying times and it’s imperative that we take these actions. The path to this bill was not easy, but we made the compromise necessary to rescue the American people and our economy,� he said.

President Donald Trump was set to sign the bill into law later Friday afternoon.

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