Davids breaks with Democrats and votes against bill to bail out state governments

May 15, 2020
In The News

Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids was one of just 14 Democrats to vote against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill Friday evening, citing the bill’s slim chance in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Davids’ no vote comes as a surprise because the Kansas Democrat has repeatedly called for aid to states and cities facing revenue losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. She participated just this week in a call with other Midwestern Democrats promoting the party’s efforts to pass fiscal relief.

The bill provides $5.2 billion to Kansas over two years and another $5.1 billion over two years to city and county governments in the state. Kansas faces a more than $650 million budget shortfall and Democratic Gov. Kelly has asked the state’s congressional delegation to back flexible aid to states.

The legislation passed without Davids’ support by a vote of 208 to 199 with one Republican, New York Rep. Peter King, joining the Democratic majority.

Republicans accused Democratic leaders of using the legislation to advance their policy wish list, including an expansion of mail voting. The bill would have put $3 billion toward helping states expand voting options during the pandemic.

“This bill did include some of the much-needed measures I’ve fought for — like funding for state and local governments to pay frontline workers and avoid painful cuts to our public schools, improved small business relief programs with stronger oversight measures, and open enrollment under the ACA so people can get the health coverage they need,” Davids said.

“But the partisan nature and wide scope of this bill makes it doomed upon arrival in the Senate — only further delaying the aid that Kansans desperately need. Instead we should use these measures as the foundation for a bipartisan relief package that delivers real solutions to the urgent challenges Kansans face in the wake of this public health crisis. That’s what I’ll continue to push for.”

Other Democratic no votes included progressive Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who criticized the bill for leaving out her legislation aimed at helping workers stay employed during the pandemic.

But most Democrats who voted against the measure represent swing districts and are facing tough re-election campaigns, such as South Carolina Rep. Joe Cunningham and Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb.

Davids flipped a GOP-leaning seat in 2018 and is a top target for national Republicans this year. Her Republican challengers had fiercely criticized the bailout for state governments.

“These bail-outs are actually standing in the way of real assistance for small businesses and others who desperately need help during this crisis,” Sara Hart Weir, one of Davids’ Republican challengers, said in a campaign email this week.

Missouri Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and William Lacy Clay both backed the measure, which steers $9.4 billion to Missouri and another $7 billion toward local governments.

Every Republican from Kansas and Missouri voted against, except for Rep. Roger Marshall who was absent. Marshall’s spokesman said the western Kansas congressman was in his final day of a self-imposed quarantine after volunteering in the emergency room at Southwest Medical Center in Liberal two weeks earlier.