The U.S. House of Representatives voted by a two-thirds majority Monday evening to send every American a $2,000 stimulus check as the coronavirus continues to throttle everyday life and commerce. The House vote sets up a showdown in the U.S. Senate between the Republican majority, which opposes a larger direct payment, and President Donald Trump and Democrats, who favor it.
Most of Oregon's congressional delegation in the House voted Monday to increase the stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.
But there was one exception: U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, the Democrat representing Oregon's 5th Congressional District.
Schrader, whose district stretches from east Clackamas County to the coast, is the most moderate of Oregon's congressional Democrats. But increasing the stimulus checks is an idea with bipartisan support: Departing U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) voted for it, as did Democratic U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Peter DeFazio.
In fact, Schrader was one of just two House Democrats to vote against the stimulus increase, The Oregonian noted.
In a statement Monday night, Schrader vehemently defended his vote, calling the larger checks a clumsy attempt at populism that wouldn't help the people with the most need.
"This is an ineffective and poorly targeted approach to aiding Americans in distress," Schrader wrote. "It is clearly a last-minute political maneuver by President Trump and extremists on both sides of the political spectrum who have been largely absent during months of hard negotiations. They have chosen to tweet their opinions instead of coming to the table to get aid in the hands of the Americans and small businesses who need it most."
Schrader said he would rather dedicate more money to the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which aids struggling businesses.
"These funds would be better used for programs like PPP and unemployment insurance that directly benefit small businesses and hardworking families who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19," he continued. "This is a gratuitous political gesture that threatens our children's future for short-term political gain. I feel for all of those who are suffering today due to financial hardship and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to continue finding ways to provide relief during these difficult times."