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Georgia leaders split over Biden's COVID stimulus bill

Even with no Republican support in the House, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package passed and now heads to the Senate.

ATLANTA — Even with no Republican support in the House, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package passed and now heads to the Senate. Two Democrats also voted against the package.

President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” includes $1,400 direct payments to some Americans and $400 weekly unemployment benefits.

He’s optimistic it’ll bring much-needed help to Americans.

“The American Rescue Plan does just that. It relieves the suffering. And it's time to act,” said President Biden.

But, in Georgia, House Republicans heavily criticized the bill.

Congressman Drew Ferguson of the 3rd district said in a tweet: 

“The response from President Biden and congressional Democrats to the Covid-19 crisis has been rushed, hyperpartisan, and out of touch with the urgent needs facing the public.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Congresswoman Nikema Williams said in a statement:

“Our workers, families, students, and businesses can’t afford to wait another day for us to play party politics with their lives.”

Governor Brian Kemp has criticized the package as well, claiming Georgia is getting less funding than other states based on the allocation formula the government will use.

“It appears that in previous packages that were on the table that they were looking at doing allocation based on population size," 11Alive financial expert Andrew Poulos said. "So, this time, they’re rewarding more so states that have been locked down and have high unemployment. If you look at our economy, we were one of the first ones to open last year.”

Governor Kemp is urging Democrat Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to vote against the deal when it goes before the Senate.

Senator Warnock voiced his support for the package in his own statement, adding: “…based on how much Georgians have been struggling, it can’t come quickly enough.”

11Alive reached out to White House officials about Kemp's claim. White House spokesperson Mike Gwin said the plan is focused on quickly getting help to communities that need it.

"That’s why part of the formula for state aid distribution is based off the number of unemployed people in the state, which measures need and targets relief money to have the biggest impact," Gwin said. 

"We can disagree on the precise way this money is allocated to state and local governments, but President Biden’s plan put forward $350 billion to keep cops, firefighters, and teachers on the job, and the Republican proposal was for $0. And when Republicans had a chance to support this funding in the House, they voted against it unanimously," Gwin added.

Poulos said Georgians may feel the impact from the allocation to an extent but, overall, he thinks this is mostly just political back and forth.

“With every package, there’s politics involved. I don’t think we’ll get any legislation, whether it’s tax legislation or stimulus legislation, where politics don’t get involved,” he said.