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Sen. Baldwin calls for passing of COVID-19 relief bill

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 6:28 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 10:15 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin joined local officials Friday in showing support for the American Rescue Plan, saying it will provide emergency funds for communities that need it.

“Wisconsin needs more support from Washington to beat the COVID-19 pandemic and move our local economies forward,” Baldwin said. “The House has done its job, and now we need to pass the American Rescue Plan in the Senate so we can continue to provide essential services that people need.”

According to a news release, a poll from Morning Consult found that 77% of voters support the measures in the COVID-19 relief bill, which includes 59% of Republican voters.

Madison Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway joined other Wisconsin mayors in showing support for the measures in the bill. They asked Baldwin and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in a letter that the Senate continue to maintain the amount of funding allocated for state and local aid.

“As mayors, we are proud of our emergency medical personnel, police officers, firefighters, teachers, sanitation workers, and other civil servants who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to protect public health and deliver essential services to our communities. We ask the Senate to maintain this level of funding for state and local aid and to preserve the distribution formula that provides direct, flexible aid to all localities tasked with managing the emergency response and vaccination efforts on the ground, regardless of size.”

Mayor Tom Barrett, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Mayor Eric Genrich, Mayor John Antaramian and Mayor Cory Mason

Sen. Ron Johnson defended his decision Friday in requesting the Senate clerk read the entire COVID-19 proposal, because the measure had only been introduced a half-hour earlier when Maj. Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer offered it as a substitute amendment.

Johnson also took exception to the price tag, accusing fellow senators of treating the funding as “monopoly money.” He said he has a strategy to bring the costs down.

“I’m happy to provide relief to people that need it, to businesses that have been shut down because the pandemic or because the government edict,” Johnson said. “But we haven’t targeted it or directed it. We just shot-gunned trillions of dollars out into the economy.”

Meanwhile, Tim Smeeding, an economist at UW-Madison, argued that the bill was targeted and would help the unemployed.

“At some point, you are right,” he told NBC15. “We have to pay for this, and that day of reckoning is coming. But to borrow at super low interest rates-- it gets the economy growing again, and getting people back to work is the most important thing.”

Senate Democrats could pass the bill on their own, with Vice President Harris breaking a tie. This approval could come as soon as this weekend, and it would then go to the House.

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