Any future federal assistance for people and businesses affected by the coronavirus needs to be specifically directed to relieving economic problems created by the illness, not used for unrelated issues such as pension bailouts, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said Friday.
Barrasso, speaking during Town Square Media’s “Economy Town Hall” broadcast on the company’s Wyoming radio stations, said he opposes the idea some Democrat members of Congress have proposed of including items such as pension bailouts and election reform in coronavirus relief packages.
“That is not the responsibility of the American people,” he said. “When I look at additional legislation, I want it to be targeted and temporary to help Americans get back to work, to deal with the disease, to help get the virus behind us.”
Officials also need to make sure the $2.7 trillion in aid already approved by Congress is wisely spent, he added.
“Some of these states have been doing things irresponsibly for decades,” he said. “And I’m not going to ask the people of Wyoming or the people of America to bail out states’ bad behavior. Some of these have been cesspools of mismanagement for decades.”
Wyoming received $1.25 billion in federal aid under the relief package.
Barrasso said he believes Congress did exactly what was needed with its first aid package by providing funds for states, small businesses, hospitals and individuals.
Wyoming has been more severely hit by the economic aspects of the pandemic than by the health aspects, he noted, so that is where the state needs the most assistance.
“We’ve been flatlined in terms of energy, in terms of agriculture, in terms of tourism,” he said. “So that’s my focus now … what can we do to help Wyoming. Make sure we’re doing well and opening wisely with regard to the health impacts, but focus specifically on the economic needs of the people of Wyoming as we come into this recovery phase.”