U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer said Tuesday that he voted against increasing COVID relief checks to $2,000 because it would add to the national debt and because Congress didn't do enough to offset it by trimming other spending.
The Minnesota Republican is the only member of the state's congressional delegation to come out against boosting the relief checks from $600 to $2,000. Congress already approved, and President Donald Trump already signed, legislation authorizing the smaller amount as part of a broad COVID aid package.
"Congress carefully developed this compromise to provide direct payments to individuals while directing additional funding in more targeted ways," Emmer said in a prepared statement. He voted for the full aid package last week, along with the rest of Minnesota's delegation.
Trump himself demanded the larger direct relief payment. On Monday, the U.S. House voted in favor of the larger $2,000 checks: Minnesota's four current Democratic House members, along with GOP Rep. Pete Stauber, all supported it. GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn was absent from the vote.
Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both Democrats, also support the larger checks. Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the measure Tuesday, but the Senate may still vote on it in the coming days.
Despite Trump's support for the bigger payments, Emmer noted that federal lawmakers did not follow the outgoing president's request to trim other spending from the full aid package.
"Yesterday's vote not only adds another $456 billion to our national debt, it fails to address any of the concerns raised by the President regarding the wasteful federal spending … that was adopted with the latest round of COVID relief," Emmer said in his statement.
Patrick Condon • 612-673-4413