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Thune, Rounds, Johnson Vote Against COVID Relief Bill

(From Left) Senator John Thune, Senator Mike Rounds, and Congressman Dusty Johnson


All three members of South Dakota’s congressional delegation voted against the latest COVID relief bill. 

They say the $1.9 trillion legislation is too broad and expensive. 

Democrats passed the bill with no Republican support. The bill includes direct payments to many Americans, extended unemployment benefits, money for vaccine distribution and school re-openings, and other pandemic-related items. South Dakota state and local governments will get $1 billion. 

Republicans objected to funding for other Democratic priorities like healthcare subsidies, the National Endowment for the Arts, and failing employer pension plans. 

Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson, who are all Republicans, voted for trillions in previous COVID relief spending during the Trump presidency. But Thune says some of that money remains unspent, and the country is past the worst of the health crisis. 

“I'm not saying that there wasn't a need to do something,” Thune said. “I'm just saying there wasn't a need to do this, and this certainly could have been done in a bipartisan way that was much more fiscally responsible and targeted.” 

Rounds said in a news release, “Democrats used the guise of COVID-19 relief to further their left-wing agenda while putting our nation deeper into debt.” 

Johnson said the bill went too far beyond the more targeted spending of prior bills. 

“It seems to me that during the depths of a crisis, a wartime investment to combat that challenge is only appropriate,” Johnson said. “Toward the end of the challenge, investing those kinds of dollars in a series of unrelated governmental spending provisions, I would view that very differently.” 

South Dakotans under income limits in the bill stand to receive thousands of dollars. That includes $1,400 for every person and dependent, plus a $3,000 tax credit for each child. 

-Contact reporter Seth Tupper by email.

Seth supervises SDPB's beat reporters and newscast team. He works at SDPB's Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.