WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), released a statement following Senate Democrats initiating the budget reconciliation process to pass a partisan $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 package without the need for Republican votes.
“For the last year, Congress has worked together to pass five effective, bipartisan COVID relief bills. There is no good reason why we can’t do the same on a sixth,” said Dr. Cassidy. “If President Biden truly wants to unify the country and work together, here is a good place to start.”
Democrats have been criticized for proposing a $1.9 trillion package without providing adequate justification for why large portions of the money are needed in the first place. Earlier this week, Cassidy and nine other Republicans met with President Biden to discuss a bipartisan path forward on COVID relief. They requested the White House’s justifications for its significant proposed spending.
“It is not right to pick and dollar amount that sounds good and then look for ways to spend it,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We need an effective relief bill that is targeted to address the actual needs of those still struggling.”
Upon receiving the information, the ten Republicans sent President Biden a letter pointing out several glaring issues with the administration’s justification for $130 billion in additional education funding.
White House staff justified the need for $37.5 billion for school-based COVID mitigation strategies with a December 18, 2020 CDC report that only estimated the need to be $22.5 billion. This also ignored the fact that Congress passed the fifth bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill, which provided $54 billion for K-12 schools, nine days after the report was published.
The additional $50 billion the Biden administration requests for funding for social distancing is based on an outdated estimate prepared last summer by the American Federation of Teachers – not the CDC or another federal health agency.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, states have spent only $4.38 billion of the emergency $68 billion in K-12 funding provided last year and governors have only spent $1.5 billion of the $7 billion they received to meet education needs in their states.