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Reps. Katko and Tenney Vote No On Massive COVID Relief Bill, Calling It "Reckless" And "Partisan"; @claudiatenney

Central New York Congressmembers John Katko and Claudia Tenney were among all 211 House republicans who voted no Wednesday on the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.  Tenney has been notably silent on the legislation in the media and on her social media feeds until now.  Katko issued a tweet after the first House vote on Feb. 27, and expressed his disappointment in a news release Feb. 3.  

In a statement, Tenney called the American Rescue Plan “reckless spending without precedent.”  She repeated party talking points that only nine percent is focused on COVID testing, vaccine development and distribution, and that one trillion dollars from the previous relief bills remains unspent. 

She says the new bill spends tax dollars on priorities that have nothing to do with ending the pandemic, and isn't targeted to those who need help most.

"It includes $80 billion to bail out multi-employer pension plans, $1.7 billion on Amtrak, at least $270 million on arts and humanities programs, stimulus checks to criminals, and the list goes on. It will also deliver billions of dollars in stimulus checks to millions of Americans who are fully employed."

Tenney says the timing of the massive recovery bill is also off.  

"Our economy is projected to begin recovering from this pandemic in the coming months, especially as vaccinations increase significantly and we begin reopening. The unemployment rate is currently at 6.2%, well below the pandemic peak of more than 14%. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects this unemployment number to continue falling," said Tenney.

Earlier attempts at similar relief legislation were continually delayed for months in the previous republican-controlled Congress and presidential administration.

For his part, Congressmember Katko in a Facebook post calls the relief bill one of the largest partisan spending meaures ever passed by Congress and will leave an unprecedented financial burden for generations to come.   He adds that a significant portion of the bill won't be spent until after 2022.

"Moving forward on this package without further bipartisan debate also ignores warnings from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which has previously stated that policies in this bill could make it harder for businesses to rebuild their workforce."

Katko acknowledges, though, there are provisions he supports and advocated for.

"...Including funds to strengthen national vaccination and testing programs, immediate assistance to working families, expanded support for struggling businesses, and aid for local governments."

Katko laments the lack of bipartisan collaboration on this legislation that was used to reach agreement on  previous COVID relief bills.  He blames democrats for forgoing collaboration and instead moving forward with a massive partisan spending package.  

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at