Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs votes against coronavirus funding
PHOENIX – Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona said Thursday he voted against Congress’ $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus package because the plan became politicized and bloated.
Biggs and Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, were the only no votes in the House; 415 colleagues voted yes Wednesday.
The bill, “isn’t designed to address the immediate needs,” Biggs told KTAR News 92.3 FM and “is not straight up for coronavirus.”
In a statement issued after the vote, Biggs called the bill “bloated” and “larded-up.”
The Senate passed the bill Thursday by a 96-1 vote and sent it to President Donald Trump’s desk, with only Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., joining Biggs and Buck in opposition.
The White House asked for $2.5 billion to spend on a plan to deal with the global virus that has now caused the death of more than 10 in the U.S.
“… We could have given them the $2.5 billion last week when (Democrats) asked for it,” Biggs told KTAR News. “And if they needed additional funding or money we could have voted on it.”
The legislation would provide federal public health agencies money for vaccine development, tests, and potential treatments, including $300 million to deliver such drugs to those who need it.
The federal Health and Human Services department pledged $500,000 to Arizona’s effort to fight the outbreak.
The state has had two cases of the virus – one confirmed and the other a confirmed presumptive case. Both patients have been in Maricopa County.
More than $2 billion would go to help federal, state and local governments prepare for and respond to the coronavirus threat.
An additional $1.3 billion would be used to help fight the virus overseas.
“They don’t need $8.3 billion … they will not be able to spend the $2.5 billion even within the next six months,” Biggs said.
The second-term congressman from Gilbert added that there was no plan to pay for the proposal.
The Trump administration, Biggs said, “had a plan and we knew where we were getting the money from out multi-trillon dollar budget.”
Lawmakers are briefed by experts daily, he said.
“Believe me, I’m in a coronavirus hearing now.”
Biggs said elected officials were taking the virus threat seriously, but tripling the budget didn’t have to happen.
“Basically, they throw a bunch of money at it to say, ‘We’ve taken care of it.'”
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster and the Associated Press contributed to this report.