BOISE — Three months out from Election Day, U.S. Senate candidate Paulette Jordan sided with national Democrats on issues like coronavirus relief legislation and voter suppression.
She discussed federal aid at a press event Friday at the Idaho statehouse, as congressional Republicans and Democrats have so far failed to pass another stimulus package, with House Democrats pushing for the $3 million Heroes Act and Senate Republicans preferring the $1 million HEALS Act.
“We have yet to see the Republican U.S. Senate body that has supported any sort of COVID relief for our working families in our state or even the rural families who are reliant on this COVID relief …” she said.
Jordan is facing second-term Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, who is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Jordan frequently discussed the importance of her “non-partisan,” “independent thinking,” but sided with Democrats on relief plans.
“The Heroes Act would actually serve Idaho citizens and our tribes within. But yet, they are promoting the HEALS Act that only serves their best friends, those in the corporate division,” she said, arguing that HEALS also wouldn’t do enough for those unemployed Idahoans who are being evicted as they struggle to pay rent.
She took aim at Risch for supporting the smaller relief package, and for his past comments on the added CARES Act unemployment benefits that expired July 31.
“We have an elected representative who has disserved our people by saying that we are getting too much money in the first place, saying $600 is too much for Idaho citizens. That’s unheard of. That’s despicable,” she said.
Her comments likely referred to a July interview with the Spokesman Review, when Risch said the $600 a month given to unemployed Americans didn’t make sense in small towns like those in rural Idaho.
“When we passed the first bill, before it was even voted on, people realized that $600 thing was a mistake,” he said.
Risch’s issues with the unemployment benefit align with past remarks by Gov. Brad Little’s office and President Donald Trump; Trump signed an executive order last weekend that would offer $300 in federal unemployment money if states chip in $100, an idea Little’s office praised but is unsure if it will take.
VOTINGJordan touched on United States Postal Service funding, which was sparked by Trump’s comments to Fox News that funding mail-in voting and the postal service were in part preventing him from supporting coronavirus relief legislation. Trump opposed more funding for USPS because it would allow for an expanded number of mail-in ballots to be counted, he said in an interview with Fox News.
“They need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said of the $3.6 billion Democrats want for post office funding.
States are beginning to replace in-person voting with mail-in ballots to prevent spreading COVID-19 through polling precincts.
Trump later pivoted, saying he would not veto a relief package for its inclusion of post office funding. Still, he has continued to draw criticism from Democrats.
“The fact that voter suppression really is at the top of my ticket, looking at what is certain for many of us who are now being faced with the challenges of the U.S. Postal Service,” she said. “If we have issues with the U.S. Postal service, we’ve got to keep in mind those who are requesting their ballot by mail.”
Jordan also praised Idaho’s allowance of early and mail-in voting, along with same-day registration, but said federal policy making voter registration automatic and making election days national holidays would further encourage participation.
When asked for comment, Risch’s campaign declined to speak on his role in negotiating coronavirus relief, post office funding or on the merits of Jordan’s ideas for election reform.
“I believe that any Idahoan who wants to register to vote should be able to do so, and should have the ability to cast their ballot either via absentee or in person,” he wrote in a statement Friday.
Jordan also reported expanding her field team ahead of the November election; she called on Idahoans to tell their state representatives if they have issues voting. State legislators will meet Aug. 24 for a special session called by Little.