Written by Devin Bates for My Champlain Valley on May 20, 2020

In a virtual town hall featuring seven members of Upstate New York’ Congressional delgation, North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik said she voted against a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package approved by the House last week because of “partisan provisions.”

The HEROES Act pledges $1 trillion to state and local governments, $200 billion in hazard pay for frontline workers and a second round of direct payments to Americans. The bill also includes a mandate for all states to send each voter a mail-in ballot and introduce online and same-day voter registration.

The bill passed May 15 by a 208 to 199 margin, with one Republican – New York Rep. Peter King — voting in favor and 14 Democrats voting against the bill.

“There were partisan provisions such as allowing federal taxpayer dollars to be sent to illegal immigrants in the form of stimulus payments, as well as a federal takeover of required vote by mail across the country, when I think states should run our elections,” Stefanik said in Tuesday’s town hall, which was broadcast on Nexstar stations across the region.

Republicans have been critical of the legislation, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) going so far as to say it has “no chance of becoming law.”

All Upstate New York representatives voted in favor of the first virus relief package, the CARES Act. But along with Stefanik, Rep. Tom Reed (R), and Rep. John Katko (R) opposed the HEROES Act, saying there wasn’t enough bipartisan negotiations.

“Time is of the essence,” Stefanik said. “I also want to make sure that any federal aid, we put up guardrails so the federal dollars flow as much as possible to the local levels. I’m talking the county, town and municipality levels.”

Stefanik has instead voiced support for a $500 billion relief package introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D). It would allocate money based on population, infections and revenue losses.

“It would be good for New York, it’s good for blue states and red states and it builds a coalition,” Stefanik said. “We’re hoping to continue to add cosponsors to that. I think this is more likely where we will land when we have a bill signed into law.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the HEROES Act would save the state from a $61 billion deficit over the next few years.

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