Iowa Congressman Steve King was one of 40 House Republicans early Saturday morning to vote against legislation aimed at helping workers, businesses and students affected by coronavirus.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, with the support of President Donald Trump, passed the Democrat-led House 363-40.
King has not said why he voted against the bipartisan legislation, other than to criticize how quickly it was brought up for a vote.
“No Member of Congress read the bill,” King said Saturday morning in a tweet. “Senate comes in on Monday and has about 60 hours ‘to find out what’s in it.'”
HR 6201 “Families First CoronaVirus Response Act” was finally posted at 12:01 this morning. Debate began at 12:10AM. Final passage vote was called at 12:28AM. No Member of Congress read the bill. Senate comes in on Monday and has about 60 hours “to find out what’s in it.”
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 14, 2020
The bill creates an emergency paid family leave program so workers can take time off due to coronavirus without losing a paycheck, allowing for two weeks of paid sick leave; provides free coronavirus testing; expands meals available to seniors and children in need; ensures protective equipment is widely available for health care workers; and includes tax credits for small- and medium-size businesses impacted by coronavirus.
Iowa has confirmed 17 cases of coronavirus. Just hours before the House vote, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a new positive test of the virus in Harrison County, which is part of King’s district. Another case was previously reported in Carroll County, also in the 4th District. Nationwide the tally has swelled to at least 2,195 infections and 49 deaths.
In a statement, 4th District candidate J.D. Scholten railed against King’s vote.
“This is a shameful, selfish, and entitled vote,” Scholten said. “Our population is older, sicker, and poorer. More people are uninsured and under-insured and lack access to healthcare and paid leave. Our few and far between hospitals and clinics could easily be overwhelmed by a large volume of patients. Steve King’s vote is a slap in the face to every single Iowan as he enjoys paid leave, health insurance, access to healthcare, and a six figure salary without sitting on a single committee.”
Iowa Democratic Reps. Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack and Cindy Axne voted in favor of the bill.
“The package we passed today will help Iowans feel they can self-quarantine, if they’re advised to by healthcare professionals, and not have to worry about missing their rent or mortgage,” Finkenauer said. “It’s important this bill will expand testing for the virus by ensuring folks don’t need to choose between the test and paying their bills.”
This is the second bill passed by the House this month to address the pandemic. On March 4, King joined his fellow Iowa Democrats to vote for the $8.3 billion emergency funding bill signed by President Trump.
By Elizabeth Meyer