West Virginia's GOP governor wants a big relief bill: 'We can't hold back'

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The governor of the overwhelmingly Republican state wants to work with the Biden administration.

West Virginia's Republican Gov. Jim Justice on Monday endorsed a large economic stimulus bill, arguing that federal lawmakers have "got to move" on legislation.

In an interview with CNN host Poppy Harlow, Justice said he sided with approving Biden's package over waiting for a "bipartisan bill" with less money, saying GOP efforts to trim down the bill were ill-timed.

"What we need to do is we need to understand that trying to be, per se, fiscally responsible at this point in time, with what we've got going on in this country ... if we actually throw away some money right now, so what?" Justice said.

"We have really got to move and get people taken care of," Justice said, saying he wants to work with the Biden administration on legislation.

President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. Recent polling has shown strong bipartisan support — as high as 82% — for relief, which includes more help for small businesses and stimulus checks.

Congressional Republicans have been trying to significantly curtail the size of the relief bill. The Republican proposal would cut three months' worth of unemployment insurance from the Biden proposal and remove $400 per person in direct payments while considerably shrinking the number of households that would receive help.

In the interview, Justice cited "struggling" people in his state, noting that many cannot pay their electricity bills because "they've got laid off because this pandemic swept their job away from them."

Justice's comments echo those of President Joe Biden, who said on Friday, "We have learned from past crises the risk is not doing too much, the risk is not doing enough."

Justice governs an overwhelmingly Republican state that went 68% to 29% for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. He is a conservative who received Trump's endorsement in his 2020 race and supported his reelection.

From the Feb. 1 edition of CNN's "Newsroom":

POPPY HARLOW, CNN: Economic relief is critical for Americans right now, it's critical to your folks in West Virginia. You have been clear about your desire to support President Biden, to work across the aisle.

 

When it comes to this COVID relief bill, I wonder what is more important to the people of West Virginia and to you: that Biden's $1.9 trillion-dollar bill passes, even if it's without Republican support and through reconciliation, which would mean bigger checks to your folks in need, or that it's a bipartisan agreement even if it's less money?

 

JIM JUSTICE: Well, first and foremost I wish we'd all come together, and that's not blowing smoke, that's just – because I don't do that.

 

But, the other flip side of it is this, is, Poppy, we've got a lot of people in West Virginia that are still struggling with paying their power bill, because they've got laid off because this pandemic just swept their job away from them.

 

HARLOW: Right, so which one is it?

 

JUSTICE: I mean, at the end of the day, really and truly, Poppy, what we need to do is we need to understand that trying to be, per se, fiscally responsible at this point in time, with what we've got going on in this country, if we actually throw away some money right now, so what?

 

We have really got to move and get people taken care of, and get people back on balance, and I want to work with the Biden administration just like I worked with the Trump administration and I want us to move forward.

 

HARLOW: That's really significant, to hear from a Republican like yourself in a state where your Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, thinks these payments are not targeted enough. Have you talked to him about it?

 

JUSTICE: Well, you know, I have not talked directly to Joe about that and everything. I don't really know exactly what the thinking could possibly be there. I mean, we've got people that are really hurting. I mean, that's just all there is to it and on top of that — here's a perfect example, Poppy. My executive assistant came in the other day, and said not far from my home there was an elderly man that froze to death in his house and everything. Probably couldn't afford to pay the power bill.

 

There's so many different things where people are really, really hurting and today we've got to move, we can't hold back — we've got to move.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.