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COVID relief bill would funnel billions into Kentucky

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 10:07 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky’s stake in the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, as written by Democrats, would be substantial.

According to estimates from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Kentucky would see $4.07 billion in state and local funding. About $2.46 billion would go directly to state government, and $1.55 billion to county and city governments.

The money is intended to help recoup COVID-related costs in rising unemployment, lost revenue and fighting the virus.

“Kentucky in total, state, city and local governments alone will be getting over $4 billion,” Kentucky House District 3 Rep. and House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth said. “That’s $4 billion with a ‘B,’ a significant amount of money, and about 80 percent of adults and children will be getting a $1,400 check.”

Yarmuth is Kentucky’s only Democrat currently serving in Congress.

The relief bill failed to win any Republican votes when it passed the House. A lengthy debate is expected in the Senate.

On Wednesday, a tweet from Sen. Mitch McConnell claimed less than 9 percent of the money nationally would go to fighting the virus, with less than 1 percent paying for vaccines.

On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul argued the $1.9 trillion Democratic plan would drive up the deficit and create incentives that would keep the unemployed from seeking work.

”It’s because (Democrats) believe in free money,” Paul said. “They don’t think you have to work for anything and they are just going to pass out free money. It’s basically the philosophy of work versus the philosophy of ‘Hey, print out money, and give you something for free.’ And that’s where we are now.’”

“Sixty percent of Republican voters across the country support this proposal,” Yarmuth said. “And I think what Rand Paul needs to do is consider whether he’s not calling all of those constituents of his who support this bill and will be getting the relief that’s so important to them, he’s calling them deadbeats. That’s basically what he’s saying.”

Paul also was critical of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s handling of the pandemic.

“The main reason we are in this fix is Gov. Beshear’s edicts,” Paul said. “We have to get rid of Gov. Beshear’s edicts. The state legislature has done it, now the courts are getting involved. But that’s the answer -- get rid of Gov. Beshear’s edicts, get back to thriving again.”

A judge issued an injunction Wednesday that temporarily blocks three bills passed by the Republican-dominated state legislature restricting Beshear’s power to enact emergency orders.

“The governor’s orders were, and continue to be, necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all Kentucky citizens,” Beshear’s office said in a statement to WAVE 3 News on Thursday. “The governor has followed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and public health experts, and many other Governors across the country are taking similar actions. Gov. Beshear knows these actions, which the Supreme Court ruled unanimously were constitutional and necessary to protect Kentuckians, are not popular, but they are needed to save lives.”

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