The House early today passed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill with all four Arkansas Hosue members — French Hill, Rick Crawford, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack — opposing the aid package.
The bill seems likely to be stripped of the increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour (it is already $11 in Arkansas.)
$1,400 checks for tens of millions of Americans
$350 billion in aid to cities and states
$170 billion for schools
Billions in grants and loans for small businesses.
Money for nutritional assistance and housing.
An increase in the child tax credit.
A $400 weekly supplement in unemployment payments.
$160 billion for COVID vaccine, testing, protective gear and public health jobs.
Expanded family sick leave.
Millionaire banker French Hill has characterized the legislation as not sufficiently targeted at people who need help — too little for pandemic relief and economic recovery, he claims. Really. I guess what he means is that there are no tax breaks for millionaires.
Republicans, who didn’t worry about deficits during the last administration, including those caused by windfall tax cuts for millionaires, also now consider the stimulus spending too great.
Previous aid has allowed Arkansas to take its money and build an enormous state surplus while providing billions in payments to business along with protection from lawsuits. You’d think French and them would like to see more of this kind of trickle-down once the state gets hold of the money.
Polling shows the bill is enormously popular with both Republicans and Democrats, if not those in Congress.
Sens. Boozman and Cotton from Arkansas can be expected to oppose the legislation. Cotton has been particularly harsh on a minimum wage increase, arguing for a minimum lower than Arkansas’s and lower than that paid by major employers such as Walmart.