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House, Senate approve Democratic plans for Virginia’s ARPA funds

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - UPDATE: After hours of debate, the State Senate has passed a spending plan for more than $4 billion from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

It differs from the House version, so a conference committee will have to resolve the differences.

Senators voted shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, with the result falling largely along party lines.

The final count was 22-18..

ORIGINAL STORY: The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a plan for more than $4 billion in federal funds.

House members approved the Democratic proposal Wednesday afternoon, while Senators were expected to approve their own version several hours later.

“And I know that the citizens of the Commonwealth are watching our work today,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Del. Luke Torian told members of the House. “Madame Speaker, I move passage of HB 7001.”

One day after the Democratic majority dispatched Republican amendments in short order, the House of Delegates approved the governor’s budget proposal.

The plan, which includes funding for unemployment insurance, broadband, clean water projects, economic recovery and other priorities, passed with Democratic and Republican votes.

“Ayes 71, Nays 25. Abstentions 0. The bill passes,” said Speaker of the House Del. Eileen Filler-Corn.

Floor amendments saw more success in the State Senate, where lawmakers approved a proposal from Tazewell Co. Republican Travis Hackworth adding sheriff’s deputies to the list of law enforcement officers receiving a one-time $5,000 bonus.

“Just do the right thing and help our sheriff’s deputies,” Hackworth encouraged members of the Senate before the voice vote.

Fairfax Democrat Chap Petersen proposed another amendment requiring the Department of Motor Vehicles to reopen its customer service centers to same-day service.

“It’s important that people be able to renew their licenses, that young people be able to get their licenses, and the people that are qualified for driver privilege cards be able to get that,” Petersen said on the Senate floor.

The amendment passed on a voice vote, but it remains to be seen if it will be included in the final bill.

The House and Senate must resolve their differences before they send the legislation back to Governor Ralph Northam.

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