Congress and the White House struck a deal late Friday on a relief package to assist individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic, moving to confront the situation that has shutdown sporting events and created concern in financial markets.
First District Congressman Kevin Hern, though, was among 40 members to vote against the bill.
“I strongly believe that a bill of this magnitude should not be voted on in the middle of the night, in a haste,” Hern said in a written statement.
Hern said the House should have waited until at least later in the weekend to vote.
“The fact is, the Senate won’t vote on this bill until Monday, which means the President will not sign it into law until Tuesday, at the earliest. There is no reason we can’t read through the proposal, debate the pro’s and con’s, and then vote sometime later this weekend.”
The legislation is expected to provide free testing, sick pay for workers, enhanced unemployment benefits and bolstered food programs.
Hern said he objected to elements of the bill he views as detrimental to business and workers.
“To be clear, this bill contained provisions that I supported, but there was much left to be desired. ... I will not vote for any bill, emergency or not, that contains regulations that would hamstring businesses and workers, especially in this climate where they recover from the economic burden of this virus.”
Representatives Frank Lucas, Tom Cole and Kendra Horn voted for the bill. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who was been dealing with a family medical situation, was absent.
Lucas, like Hern, noted the bill had changed during the past few weeks but said it remained mostly on point.
“While this wasn’t the first draft of the bill,” said Lucas said, “I’m encouraged that lofty, political opportunism could be put aside in order for Congress and the Administration to provide for the health and financial well-being of the American people.”