ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -5th District Congressman Denver Riggleman says he’s confident there will be a COVID-19 relief bill before the end of the year, and he’s speaking out about why he’s one of few Republicans on the Hill that has acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Riggleman is slamming fellow Republicans for parroting conspiracy theories about the election, and calling out lawmakers for stalling COVID-19 funding.
A bipartisan COVID-19 relief funding framework released last week would not provide direct $1,200 payments to Americans like the previous one. The proposal released by the Trump Administration would provide $600 payments to individuals, but Riggleman wants to go further than both.
“I think it’s appropriate to add stimulus checks at $1,200 per person and $500 per child,” he said.
Riggleman says the talks will likely go into next week, but says it’s probable Congress will pass a deal before the end of the year.
“These businesses, some of them are failing through no fault of their own and people are suffering because of it. So I think we take what we have right now, we help businesses, but we also help individuals,” he said.
While the $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief plan is less than the $916 billion plan proposed by the White House, both include funding for small businesses and unemployment benefits. The latter’s plan includes $140 billion less in jobless benefits than the former, which Democratic leaders on the Hill called unacceptable.
“At this point I think we need to put people over the party and people over politics and get this bill passed, and if it’s $180 billion I’m going to vote yes. If it’s $40 billion I’m going to vote yes. Whatever comes out of conference, we need to vote yes to help the people,” Riggleman said.
Last week, Riggleman was one of just five Republicans to vote in favor of legalizing marijuana on the federal level in a decision he says is personal.
“My brother had a felony conviction for marijuana and it’s been a rough 10 to 12 years as he’s wanting to, you know, integrate back into society, but he couldn’t vote, all these other things. So I think there’s a criminal justice reform element here,” he said.
As for the presidential election, The Washington Post reported just 27 congressional Republicans have acknowledged Biden’s win. Riggleman was one of them.
“There’s people I know and respect that haven’t come out to say something that I think is pretty realistic, but you do have others that like to live in fantasy land,” he said.
Riggleman says he is still making a decision about whether to run for governor, but is looking forward to spending more time with his family after leaving Washington in January.