By Zach Armstrong
PETERSBURG, Va -- Virginia House Representatives Robert Wittman (R-1), Ben Cline (R-6) and H. Morgan Griffith (R-9) were the only members of U.S. Congress from the commonwealth that voted against increasing relief checks from $600 to $2,000. Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-5) was the only Virginia Republican in the House that voted in favor of the bill while all Virginia Democrats in the House voted in favor of it.
The measure passed the House by a 275-134 vote with support from 44 Republicans and nearly all Democrats.
Although Reps. Cline and Griffith said that they actually supported the $2,000 relief checks, they voted against the measure because the increase wasn’t offset by what they deemed as ‘wasteful’ spending.
“I fully supported President Trump’s call to raise the dollar amount of Emergency Relief Checks from $600 to $2000 by offsetting it with cuts to wasteful spending included in the bill. Sadly, Democrats voted down our attempt to make these changes last week. Therefore, because the bill only included half of President Trump’s proposal, I could not support the bill as written,” Cline said in a released statement.
“Today, the Democrats in the House put forward a bill to increase the size of the individual checks, BUT did not put forward any of the President’s cut suggestions OR cuts to spending that they preferred.” said Griffith in a release. “Accordingly, I could not support this increased spending, at this time, without legitimate cuts as requested by the President.”
President Donald Trump said in a statement after signing a relief package the previous week that he “told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child.” While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opposed the measure, other prominent Republicans voiced their support including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Although Senate Democrats, some Republicans and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders pushed for a Senate vote on $2,000 stimulus checks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) rebuffed the effort.
McConnell later introduced his own version of the legislation that linked $2,000 payments to the creation of an advisory committee on election fraud and repeal of Section 230 the Communications Decency Act which took away immunity from social media outlets on free speech matters.
Democrats voiced intent to revive the $2,000 checks once the 117th Congress is sworn in although they lost several seats in the House of Representatives in the November election.
“President-elect Joe Biden has made clear that the pandemic relief bill that Congress passed is simply a down payment on the work that needs to continue,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) the chair of the House Democratic caucus according to USA Today. “We’re going to continue to fight for a $2,000 direct payment check.”