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Spanberger, Riggleman United on Aid Package But Not Trump

The western front of the United States Capitol.
The western front of the United States Capitol. (Photo: Architect of the Capitol/Creative Commons)

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) often find themselves on opposite sides of major Congressional votes.

But they’re rallying behind a $2 trillion aid package set to be passed by the Senate on Wednesday to address the COVID-19 pandemic, even as they continue to disagree on the quality of President Donald Trump’s crisis leadership.

The bill includes $1,200 checks to most American adults; extending the length, pay, and eligibility for unemployment insurance; $350 billion in loans to small businesses; and roughly $500 billion in loans for corporations, with increased oversight requested by Democrats.

The House may vote by “unanimous consent,” which would require total agreement for the bill; some left-leaning lawmakers have been critical of the bill’s funding for corporations.

In an interview on Wednesday afternoon, Spanberger said she was still reviewing the package.

“But the fact that it has emerged from the Senate, bipartisan, with the support of Democrats and Republicans, I think is valuable,” she said.

Riggleman suggested on Tuesday that he liked what he knew about the bill. He said businesses small and large needed a cash injection to stay afloat.

“We need to make sure we have the structural infrastructure in place to be able to respond after this is over, “ Riggleman said. “So this isn't a bailout at all, this is a health emergency.”

Riggleman said both Gov. Ralph Northam and Trump had done “a great job in trying to mitigate this” and characterized criticism of both men as partisanship.

He also defended Trump’s use of the phrase “China virus,” which has drawn pushback from China and that some have connected to recent hate crimes against Asian Americans . Riggleman contended that the name was no different than the West Nile virus, and said the people perpetrating the crimes were “evil anyway,” denying a connection to Trump’s rhetoric.

“I think at this point it is just a non-issue to even worry about what we're calling it right now when we're trying to fight a pandemic,” Riggleman said.

Trump said on Tuesday that he would no longer use the phrase.

Spanberger argued Trump downplayed the risks of the virus even as reports showed its severity overseas. She introduced a resolution on Monday calling on the president to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to force companies to produce medical gear.

“Every day they don't take action is a day that we see numbers, like in Virginia, go from 290 to 391,” she said, referring to the rise in known COVID-19 cases from Tuesday and Wednesday.

Trump has said businesses have already agreed to produce supplies and argued using the DPA is unnecessary.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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