Political notebook: Budd votes against, Hudson for Coronavirus Response Act

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 16, 2020

One of Rowan County’s Republican congressmen voted against and the other voted for a coronavirus response bill that passed by a bipartisan count early Saturday.

Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican who represents the 13th Congressional District, was one of 40 GOP members of the U.S. House who voted against the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican who represents the 8th Congressional District, was one of 140 Republicans who joined 223 Democrats in voting for the bill. No Democrats voted against the measure.

The bill, which still needs the support of the U.S. Senate, would specifically respond to the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by coronavirus, by allocating additional funding to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC; suspend work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps; require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a standard requiring certain employers implement an exposure control plan for health care workers, create a federal emergency paid leave benefits program and require employers provide paid sick leave.

Among North Carolina’s congressmen, only Rep. Dan Bishop, a Republican who represents the 9th Congressional District, joined Budd in voting against the measure. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican who’s been named President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff, did not vote on the measure.

In a statement about his vote, Budd said the country needs to deal with the outbreak of coronavirus in a responsible way.

“That’s why I voted for the initial $8.3 billion aid package and support President Trump’s national emergency declaration. But this second package was deeply flawed in both process and substance,” Budd said in a prepared statement. “It was written in secret and sprung on House members at midnight with minutes to digest billions of dollars in new spending and regulatory impact. Washington lobbyists even had versions of the bill before members of Congress. That’s not how our government should be run.”

Budd did not specify contents of the bill with which he disagreed.

Hudson did not issue a statement specifically about the most recent coronavirus bill, but said on Friday that Republicans and Democrats need to work together to make sure anyone who needs one can get a test.

“We also need to protect workers and small businesses from the potential impact of this virus in our community,” Hudson said. “As the situation evolves, I’ll continue to work with local, state and federal partners to keep our communities safe.”

Budd introduces bill to incentivize telework during COVID-19 outbreak

Before voting against the the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Budd joined and Rep. Ross Spano, R-Florida, on Friday in introducing the Safeguarding Americans from Epidemics (SAFE) at Work Act.

The legislation aims to help reduce the risk of community spread of the COVID-19 by creating a new telework tax credit for tax years 2020 and 2021 for employers who allow their employees to telework a minimum of 12 days per month.

Budd said his goal is to keep Americans safe and healthy at home and in the workplace.

“The CDC has found that many individuals can contract COVID-19 and be contagious without showing symptoms, sometimes for weeks,” Budd said in a statement. “This means that people could show up to work and infect others without being aware that they are sick.” 

The tax credit would be up to $1,200 per year for each qualifying employee. The bill also temporarily allows employees to deduct home office expenses for tax years 2020 and 2021.

Budd said it’s common sense to incentivize employers to allow their employees to telework.

“We must take this threat seriously and take every step possible to ensure the safety of our citizens,” he said.