Thompson explains his 'no' on higher stimulus
President Donald Trump last month sought to provide most Americans with $2,000 each in the recently passed $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, but many House and Senate Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, were against doing so.
Thompson, who had voted in favor of $600 payments to individuals in the package that was eventually signed into law, said individual payments of $2,000 was "just reckless."
"I would have been great with it if it would have been specifically targeted to people whose income was disrupted due to COVID-19. For a lot of people their income was not disrupted," said Thompson (R-15). "If this would have targeted people who are waiting tables or who have businesses that have been shut down and have not been getting a paycheck because of COVID-19, I would have been all in favor of ($2,000 payments)."
Thompson said he also couldn't justify borrowing an additional $500 billion, which would have put the country further into debt.
"This was additional money that we don't have, and we would need to borrow or print," he said. "Neither of those are good options."
Thompson disagreed with Trump's criticism of the bill's funding of foreign aid programs, pointing out it was the president, along with his team, who "put in those numbers."
"His main focus, I think, was foreign aid," Thompson said. "For years now, we have reduced the amount of foreign aid."
According to Thompson, about 1 percent of the package's total spending - between $5 billion and $6 billion - will go toward foreign aid.
"With the leadership of the president and his State Department, we have targeted foreign relief to prevent more costly wars," he said. "We support Israel, for example, with an agreement that they purchase the military equipment they need, like anti-missile devices, from U.S. manufacturers."
Thompson said he "was very supportive" of the funding for the COVID-19 package.
"You are never going to get a funding bill from the federal government that will be absolutely perfect. You can always find something you disagree with," Thompson said. "I am sure there were things in the funding bill that I disagreed with, but it does take both houses to pass those bills. I thought we did really well. It protected the pro-life components. I had a lot of priorities that were in that bill that will be good for Pennsylvania and the congressional district."
A priority for Thompson was his Leveraging Options for Counties and Localities (LOCAL) Act, which extends the deadline to spend Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds for one year, to Dec. 31.
"An issue that came out of our congressional district, but will impact all of the United States, allows our county commissioners to have an additional 12 months in order to use their CARES money," Thompson said.
Many county commissioners, he said, used a significant amount of CARES funding to upgrade to high speed broadband, and they couldn't accomplish spending all of the CARES funding by the end of 2020.
"I was successful in including that in this bill," Thompson said of the bipartisan LOCAL Act that he co-sponsored with Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery County.
In addition, he said, the package "will provide hardworking American families and small businesses with relief going into 2021."