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House Democrats pressure colleagues to vote on December COVID relief funds

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Democrats in the state House of Representatives are calling for the release of more than $350 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid.

That money is from a December 2020 stimulus package.

Leadership is characterizing that money as being tied up in Washington D.C., waiting for the state to officially accept it.

House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) said the decision is in her Republican colleagues’ hands.

“The money cannot be spent until we take a vote in the Capitol to bring it home to Michigan. And Republicans have not put that vote up on the board for us to vote yes to bring those dollars home,” Lasinski said.

The remaining December stimulus money has to be spent on ways to directly fight the spread of COVID-19, like testing, tracing, and vaccination efforts.

“Because we don’t have it here, hospitals, providers and others are using resources that had typically been dedicated to the urgent and immediate health care needs of Michiganders that are outside of COVID-19,” Lasinski said.

Aside from the $350 million to handle the COVID-19 response, the state has billions of federal COVID dollars left to address other needs.

The state Senate Appropriations Committee heard testimony this week on a plan to spend $2.5 billion of that money on water infrastructure.

There’s no set timeline for spending that money.

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