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WASHINGTON — When casting their votes on the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus package that allocated an unprecedented $31.2 billion for Indian Country, the six Native Americans serving in the 117th Congress cast their votes strictly down party lines on Wednesday.

Among the many aspects of the comprehensive relief package, included are $1,400 direct payments to 85 percent of eligible Americans and a needed extension of unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

During the Wednesday vote, every Democrat in the House of Representatives voted in favor of the relief package. Every Republican voted no.

While the House members voted down party lines, they did not necessarily vote the way their constituents wanted them to vote.

According to polling by Data for Progress, 69 percent of voters supported the bill. This support held strong across parties: 84 percent of self-identified Democrats, 65 percent of Independents and 54 percent of Republicans supported the legislation. 

Here is how Native American members of Congress voted on the American Rescue Plan:

Rep. Tom Cole, (R-OK) – Chickasaw Nation - Nay

Rep. Sharice Davids, (D-KS) – Ho-Chunk Nation - Yea

Rep. Yvette Herrell, (R-NM) – Cherokee - Nay

Rep. Kaialiʻi Kahele (D-HI) – Native Hawaiian - Yea

Rep. Deb Haaland, (D-NM), Laguna Pueblo - Yea

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R-OK), Cherokee – Nay

After the historic vote, the Native American members of Congress released statements explaining their votes.

Rep. Tom Cole, (R-OK)

“While Democrats’ fake coronavirus rescue package had a very few egregious provisions removed during its trip over to the U.S. Senate, the final version headed to the president’s desk remains deeply partisan and extremely liberal. In fact, even socialist Senator Bernie Sanders has called it the most progressive legislation he has ever voted for or seen passed in his congressional career. Similarly, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has described it as the most progressive bill in U.S. history.”

Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS)

“The coronavirus pandemic is continuing to destroy lives and livelihoods across the country. While not a perfect bill, the American Rescue Plan contains many of the measures I’ve pushed for to address this health and economic crisis – including ramping up vaccine and PPE production, putting money directly in the pockets of Kansans, and getting aid to our state and local governments to keep our teachers and firefighters on the payroll. I look forward to President Biden signing this bill into law so we can get much needed relief into the hands of the American people right away.”

Rep. Deb Haaland, (D-NM)

“As someone who lived in poverty and didn’t have a savings for most of my adult life, I know what it’s like to be one emergency away from being homeless. This pandemic has put a strain on New Mexico families, hospital workers, small businesses, and many families who have lost multiple family members to this horrible virus. Everyone in our state deserves to feel whole again. That’s why the American Rescue Plan is so important. With $1400 checks in people’s pockets and extended unemployment benefits, New Mexicans will have immediate financial stability, and long term investments for vaccine distribution will make sure we can get more vaccines into people’s arms and teachers and students are safe to go back to school while jumpstarting an equitable recovery.”

Rep. Yvette Herrell, (R-NM)

“The American people have been shamefully misled about additional COVID relief. Unlike the previous five bipartisan COVID bills, this Democrat-only package is not targeted or temporary relief to help families and businesses who were struggling during the darkest days of the pandemic. Instead, it offers stimulus checks to prisoners and illegal immigrants while making just 5 percent of the $130 billion for K-12 schools available this year. Worse, less than 9 percent of the $1.9 trillion bill even goes to combatting the virus while $12 billion goes overseas and more than $500 billion goes to bailout states and cities that imposed arbitrary and scientifically questionable lockdowns. With the end of this difficult time now in sight, we should be focused on reopening our communities and getting our children back in school as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this bill does nothing to make either happen any faster.”

Rep. Kaialiʻi Kahele (D-HI)

“I joined @HouseDemocrats today to pass the #AmericanRescuePlan. The #AmericanRescuePlan will get shots in arms, money in pockets, children in schools, & people in jobs.”

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R-OK)

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this bill is nothing but Democratic wish list items that hinder our economic recovery from the pandemic. From blue state bailouts to funding for a San Francisco subway, only 9 percent of the $1.9 trillion will actually go to COVID relief and 45 percent isn’t even going to be used this year. That is unacceptable and reckless. With $1 trillion from previously enacted relief bills still unspent, we should be focusing on getting targeted relief to those who need it most and getting our economy fully reopened.”

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Levi Rickert
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Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].