GOP, Idaho’s Risch support cash payments to Americans in ‘deteriorating’ pandemic

Posted at 12:30 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 14:30:18-04

This article is written by Nicole Foy with the Idaho Statesman.

With Idahoans facing layoffs across industries, one Idaho county on lockdown and confirmed coronavirus cases rising in every corner of the state, Idaho Sen. Jim Risch said he believes Idahoans already understand the severity of the pandemic.

But the fact that Republicans like himself are working on a trillion-dollar stimulus plan that includes direct cash payments to Americans affected by the pandemic should convince any remaining skeptics of the threat facing Americans and the economy, he said.

“That alone should open people’s eyes and see how serious this is and how dangerous it is to the American economy …“ Risch told the Idaho Statesman on Friday. “Most of these are things the vast majority of us wouldn’t vote for in normal circumstances.”

The stimulus plan backed by Republican senators includes income-based cash payments up to $1,200 per person and $2,400 for each couple, Risch said. The stimulus plan also would allocate $300 billion in federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and $200 billion for hard-hit industries like airlines, Politico reported.

Risch and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo already voted in favor of House Resolution 6021: Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allocated funds for free coronavirus testing and other financial assistance measures.

Idaho Republican Mike Simpson also supported it in the U.S. House of Representatives, where it passed on a bipartisan 363-40 vote. Idaho Republican Russ Fulcher voted against it.

“Predictions for what is going to happen next week are really, really dire if we don’t get this done,” Risch said.

Bipartisan talks on this week’s stimulus package stalled late Friday as lawmakers struggled to compromise on the amounts and distribution of individual cash payments, according to The Washington Post.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the finalized stimulus package Monday. Risch told the Statesman he was confident lawmakers would come to an agreement because of the serious and “deteriorating” situation.

Many of the country’s businesses are closed to avoid spreading the COVID-19 disease.

“We are going to turn the corner on this,” Risch said. “We’ve been through a revolution, a civil war, two world wars, the Great Depression and 9/11. We’ve been through some very difficult challenges, and we will rise to this challenge.”