Biden American Rescue Plan

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with labor leaders in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 17 in Washington.

President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan is hurtling towards a vote in Congress, and it’s supported by St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray.

The plan would see $350 billion sent to states and municipalities, similar to previous coronavirus relief found in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. Biden’s plan calls for $1.9 trillion in spending, which can be passed without any Republican support.

“Any more assistance from the Fed? We’d welcome it with open arms,” McMurray said. “I absolutely know there are people who have called the mayor’s office saying we need help with our utilities. We need help with rent. I mean, we have people who have to choose between rent or food.”

Republicans have balked at the price tag of Biden’s proposed legislation, and a group of moderate senators that includes Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., have proposed a plan with a cost of about one third of the president’s plan.

“We’re in the process of getting a hyper partisan $1.9 trillion spending bill rammed down our throats,” Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., said in a Facebook post. “The bill includes some $350 billion to bail out states that have mismanaged their budgets for decades, and while liberals like to talk about the need to ‘Get shots in arms,’ less than 9% of their bill goes towards vaccine distribution.”

Vice President Kamala Harris is allowed to cast tie breaking votes in the Senate, giving Democrats a one vote majority in the chamber. In the House, Democrats have a slightly wider 10-vote advantage. Democrats have widely been in lock step on the American Rescue Plan, though Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has opposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour through the bill.

Republicans also point to cities, like St. Joseph, that haven’t spent all of their CARES Act dollars as not needing additional funding. St. Joseph has about $700,000 left to spend, though McMurray says that’s due to a technicality in the CARES Act that required Buchanan County to spend its money first.

Qualifying Americans would receive a $1,400 stimulus check under the American Rescue Plan. Final details on an income threshold for the checks hasn’t been decided by legislative leaders.

“You know, my wife even asked me if we’re in line to get it (a check),” McMurray said. “Certainly a stimulus check would help a lot of people who are having a lot of troubles during this pandemic.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told News-Press NOW on Feb. 4 that he supports the proposed $1,400 checks. However, it’s unclear if he’d support the American Rescue Plan because of the funding to state and local governments.

“But listen, working people in our state and across the nation have borne the brunt of this pandemic. I’ve been saying for months that they ought to be first in line for COVID relief, not last behind the corporations and banks and governments,” Hawley said in an interview at the time.

Matt Hoffmann can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.