WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was one of only six U.S. Senators to vote against a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill Monday night.
Reps. John Curtis and Chris Stewart of Utah also voted against the bill.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) helped design the bipartisan bill and voted for it to pass. Rep. Ben McAdams voted in favor of it as well.
The Senate approved the bill late Monday night by a vote of 92-6.
The House had already passed the spending bill by a vote of 359-53.
It was sent to President Trump who is expected to sign the bill into law.
The COVID relief package was combined with a massive $1.4 trillion government spending bill to keep federal agencies funded for the next fiscal year and set government priorities.
The relief package contains stimulus checks up to $600 for individuals, help for small businesses and for renters.
But the bill overall also contains funding for two Smithsonian museums, a statement on the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and extending tax breaks for NASCAR racing in addition to other government priorities.
In a series of tweets Tuesday morning, Lee explained why he did not support the bill.
"For almost a year, Utahns have been fighting through terrible conditions to work, to find work, to serve their neighbors and communities as best they can. Congress has failed to meet their standard of courage and duty.
This COVID relief bill - like the one Senate Democrats blocked for months out of pure partisan politics - contains some much-needed items to help Utahns recover including more funding for faster vaccine deployment and an expanded charitable deduction.
Unfortunately, the COVID relief bill has been packaged together w/ a much larger government spending bill that is bursting at the seams with special interest handouts slipped into to 5,593 pages of legislative text in the dark of night. No one who voted for this bill read it.
This process has not overcome Washington dysfunction; it is Washington dysfunction. Even during a pandemic this is not how governing should be done, it is unfair to the American people, and that is why I voted no."
Here's the statement from Curtis:
“This week’s omnibus package is the height of Congressional dysfunction. Small businesses and individuals have desperately needed relief for months but instead of considering the dozens of targeted bills that already have bipartisan support, we tied COVID relief up into a nearly 6,000-page budget bill we voted on just hours after receiving the text. While there are many provisions in this legislation that I support—including several of my bipartisan proposals—I could not vote for a bill that spends over $2 trillion taxpayer dollars without fully understanding how it could impact Utah and Utahns. Congress completely failed to put this bill together in a responsible manner.”
Stewart gave the following as his reason for voting no:
"Tonight I voted NO for additional COVID relief. $27 trillion in debt should scare us all. I simply cannot support a bill that was crafted without offsets and mechanisms to address our nation’s spending problem."
Romney released this statement Tuesday:
“Over the past month, I have worked in a small bipartisan coalition that crafted an emergency relief bill that provides assistance to those who need it the most. I’m pleased that Congressional leaders used our legislation as the basis for the final package that has now passed both Houses. Among its provisions, the legislation extends federal unemployment benefits, provides emergency relief for small businesses, and supports health care providers and vaccine distribution. Thousands of Americans are in dire need of the lifeline this legislation provides, and I urge the President to sign it without delay.”
McAdams released a statement Monday night:
Tonight I voted in support of the COVID-19 relief bill. The bill isn't perfect, but hardworking Utah families and small business owners need relief now as we continue to cope with the effects of the pandemic. #utpol
Read my complete statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/yL3LhWnGhB
— Rep. Ben McAdams (@RepBenMcAdams) December 22, 2020
Rep. Rob Bishop did not vote, possibly due to him recovering from a stroke.
Around $10 million is being made available for the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a pilot program giving financial assistance to “rural communities to further develop renewable energy.”
Overall, Congress is sending a message that America should make renewable energies a priority.