One of the most vulnerable House Democrats this election cycle suggested Sunday that another COVID relief package is not necessary and that state legislatures should spend the money they already have received from previous relief packages.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Michigan Democrat and a two-term lawmaker, took issue with state lawmakers who received billions in COVID relief funding last spring but refuse to spend the money to reopen schools and hire health care professionals.
Ms. Slotkin suggested on NBC’s “Meet The Press” the country should enter a new phase on COVID and keep kids in school and businesses open. But she also cautioned that hospitals are “like war zones right now” and said there are not enough substitute teachers when full-time teachers get COVID.
“The state of Michigan has, like, literally $4 billion. Hello? Michigan state Senate and state senators. Move. Get off your duffs. Get that money out so that we can pay more for subs in our schools,” Ms. Slotkin said. “So that we can get more folks, nurses and doctors. I don’t know that we need another package because the money we’ve spent hasn’t been used already on the ground.”
Ms. Slotkin made her observation as Democrats are struggling to figure out how to pass President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social welfare package that was torpedoed by Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, when he indicated he could not support the bill last month.
Mr. Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in March. The plan sent direct payments of up to $1,400 per week of unemployment insurance, expanded the child tax credit and allotted more money into vaccine distribution. The proposal also directed more than $120 billion to K-12 schools.
Democrats passed the bill without the help of any House or Senate Republicans. The legislation passed the upper chamber by a simple majority after Democrats used the budget reconciliation process, which enabled them to bypass a 60-vote threshold.
The GOP criticized the plan, saying more Americans received their COVID-19 vaccinations and more states already were reopening their economies.
“The American people already built a parade that’s been marching toward victory,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said at the time of the legislation’s passage. “Democrats just want to sprint to the front of that parade and claim credit.”
Ms. Slotkin, like other vulnerable Democrats, is seeking to distance herself from the Biden administration as the midterm elections draw near. She won reelection by more than 3 percentage points in a district that had been represented by a Republican.