OTTAWA — A Nebraska Republican senator put U.S. President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion USD relief bill into perspective over the weekend by comparing its price tag to the value of Canada’s annual economy.
The U.S. Senate passed the COVID-19 relief bill 50-49 Saturday along party lines. The bill, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, includes a proposal for another round of $1,400 USD stimulus cheques for people who earn less than $75,000 annual income and extended federal unemployment benefits.
“This weekend’s spending is bigger than the entire annual economy of Canada, yet only one percent of it is vaccine-related,” said Sen. Ben Sasse in a statement Saturday.
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He described the Democrats’ $1.9-trillion deal as a vehicle for “midnight spending” that lets “senators hide a bunch of crap behind titles like ‘The Cuddly Puppies Act,’ and then say anybody voting against it hates puppies.”
The bill is “overwhelmingly non-emergency,” he said. “We should’ve just bought Canada too.”
Before the pandemic, Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) was just over the $2-trillion threshold. By the end of 2020, the country’s GDP was valued at over $1.9 trillion, according to Statistics Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under pressure to strike a deal with the Biden administration to have Canada exempt from the bill’s protectionist measures giving preferential treatment to U.S. companies for relief bill-related contracts.
A spokesperson from Sasse’s office told HuffPost Canada said the senator would have supported a bill that directly addressed public health needs such as more funding for vaccines.
“The package included a whole bunch of pork that had absolutely nothing to do with addressing our public health crisis: money for private pensions, earmarked pet projects in Rhode Island and New Jersey, bailouts for multiple states with higher than usual tax receipts, etc,” read the email from Sasse’s office Monday.
“There’s still billions of unspent dollars from previous COVID relief packages.”
Biden’s relief bill is now before the House of Representatives for a final vote expected this week.