FILE - South Carolina U.S. Rep. William Timmons

U.S. Rep. William Timmons, R-South Carolina

(The Center Square) – A nearly $2.4 trillion spending package that includes $900 billion in COVID-19 stimulus passed both houses of Congress with opposition from two South Carolina Republican congressmen.

Republican U.S. Reps. William Timmons and Ralph Norman both opposed the massive spending bill that passed Monday night. Reps. Jeff Duncan and Joe Wilson did not cast votes.

Wilson is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. The rest of South Carolina’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, supported the spending bill.

A $900 billion COVID-19 relief package was attached to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government funded through September and avoid a shutdown.

Members of Congress received the 5,593-page legislation negotiated in private by congressional leadership hours before they cast their votes.

“I want to be clear: I support the bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 relief bill,” Timmons said in a statement explaining his vote. “I have been waiting for months to cast this vote, and I would have voted in favor of this relief package [Monday] had it not been wrongfully attached to a bloated government funding bill. But I do not support the reckless, multi-trillion-dollar government spending bill that is chock full of unnecessary spending.”

The $900 billion in pandemic relief will provide a $280 billion second round of forgivable business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. It also will provide direct payments of $600 to qualifying Americans, $300 a week in extended federal unemployment benefits, and $82 billion for colleges and schools reopening for in-person learning.

The stimulus bill also includes $15 billion for entertainment venues and movie theaters with significant revenue loss, $20 billion to make COVID-19 vaccines available for free to anyone who needs them, $13 billion for agriculture and $7 billion for broadband.

While a proposed $160 billion for state and local governments was not included in the omnibus spending package, it does include $300 million for fisheries, $26 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and $10 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan, among many other spending items.

“The passage of critical COVID-19 relief, government funding and tax extenders is a huge boost for the American people,” Scott said in a statement. “I am thrilled to have secured more than a dozen provisions helping South Carolina families and small businesses in these bills.”

Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.