March 27, 2020

Congressmen Al Lawson, Neal Dunn see a lot to like in federal coronavirus stimulus plan

In a display of bipartisan agreement, two of North Florida's members of Congress — Republican Neal Dunn and Democrat Al Lawson — have endorsed a $2.2 trillion economic relief package to combat the coronavirus and calm a reeling nation.

Millions of Americans are seeking unemployment benefits as businesses close and jobs disappear.

By Friday morning, both Lawson, of Tallahassee, and Dunn, of Panama City, said they see a lot of good in the package negotiated by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Procedural delays raised by GOP Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky delayed a vote but Friday afternoon Congress approved the measure, sending it to President Donald Trump, who signed it.


The $2.2 trillion legislation will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase jobless benefits for millions of people thrown out of work. Businesses big and small will get loans, grants and tax breaks. And it will send unprecedented billions to states and local governments, and the nation’s all but overwhelmed health care system.

"There's funding to shore up our overburdened health system at the local and state level," Lawson said. "And there's funding to get small business back on their feet and get North Floridians back to work."

Lawson's Congressional District 5 stretches from Jacksonville west into Gadsden County. Dunn's Congressional District 2 underlies Lawson's, running from roughly around Cedar Key west through Perry before swinging up and over to take in Panama City and Chipley. Both men were first elected in 2016. 

Dunn said he believed the package will prevent any further economic damage to an area that has not yet recovered from Hurricane Michael.

"This bill is designed to jumpstart the economy and help people economically weather the worst part of this virus," Dunn said as he was en route to Washington for the House vote.

As of Friday morning, there were 134 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the 26 counties that Lawson and Dunn represent in Congress.

By:  James Call, USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida Capital Bureau