Skubick: $5 billion in federal aid still unused as state legislatures unable to reach agreement


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan House Democrats are still at odds with state Republicans over the spending of $5 billion in federal COVID-19 aid. 6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick reports that the two top leaders in the House have not met to work out their disagreements.

For three weeks House Democrats have been calling for a vote on spending federal COVID aid. So far nothing has come of it.

The money would be used for COVID vaccines, sending kids back to school and sending aid to suffering businesses.

The House GOP speaker doesn’t even have the issue on the calendar this week.

The top leaders of each party have yet to meet and work out a compromise.

Democratic leader Donna Lasinki said that “talks are happening at the appropriations teams,” but nothing concrete has been confirmed.

Rep. Tom Albert, the Senate Budget Committee Chair said he is willing to spend some of the money, but not all of it at once..

“We can’t provide oversight while the money sits in Washington,” responded Lasinki.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is scheduled to meet with the GOP and Democratic leaders on Tuesday, but the federal aid is not expected to be on the table.

Last week, the stalemate between Democrats and the GOP legislature has caught the attention of some in Washington, with Rep. Slotkin (MI-08) releasing a statement urging the use of the funds.

She said on Facebook, “This is money we passed in Congress as part of the last, bipartisan COVID relief bill and it should go toward supporting Michigan communities, as intended, now.”

Past bills that call for use of the money include aid for:

  • $90 million for vaccine distribution throughout Michigan so we can get more shots into people’s arms. 
  • $575 million to expand COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and lab capacity. 
  • $2.1 billion in food assistance.  
  • $661 million to help with rental assistance and winter utility bills. 
  • $2 billion for Michigan’s public schools. 
  • $270 million for small-business relief. 
  • Language that would extend unemployment assistance from 20 to 26 weeks. 

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