Wisconsin Democrats, Republicans react to federal COVID relief package passing

NOW: Wisconsin Democrats, Republicans react to federal COVID relief package passing

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett referred to the federal COVID-19 relief package Congress passed Wednesday, March 10, as "the most significant piece of legislation that I have seen pass Congress in the last generation.”

Barrett held a press conference outside Milwaukee City Hall Wednesday with Milwaukee area Representative Gwen Moore, D-WI.  Moore referred to the bill as a “rescue" package, sending Americans direct payments, boosting unemployment benefits, giving money to small businesses and providing money to return students to the classroom.

“Just stop to think about people who perhaps have not paid rent for four or five months,” Moore said.

Moore said she also wants some of the money to go toward solving the city’s problems with lead laterals.

Kenosha area Representative Bryan Steil, R-WI, said only about 10-percent of the bill deals with COVID-19 directly.

“What we’re looking at is a bill with a lot of liberal wish lists, rather than being targeted and focused to get our way of life back.”

Barrett said the package includes money for infrastructure, housing and broadband that will help minority communities disproportionately impacted by the virus.

“This has not been an equal opportunity pandemic," Barrett said. "It has hit people who have been historically victims of structural racism.”

Senator Ron Johnson said too much of the $350 billion in local government funding goes to states that had the strictest shutdowns.

“It's not a COVID package," Johnson said. "A very small percentage actually went to COVID. But a $350 billion bailout to the states is going to be allocated to those states that had the most severe shutdowns. It didn't really prevent the pandemic from spreading, or really prevent deaths. It just caused an enormous human economic toll that was unwarranted. But now those states are going to be rewarded for those severe shutdowns.”

Barrett said Milwaukee will receive the money in two waves, and will receive that first wave by the end of the 2021.

The money must be spent by 2024.

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