OKEECHOBEE- Congressman Greg Steube, who represents Florida's 17th congressional district which includes Okeechobee, took questions at a virtual townhall hosted online by the Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce on March 22.
Rep. Steube opened the townhall by giving an update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the state of Florida.
“We’re up to more than 3 million people in the state of Florida that have gotten vaccinated,” said Rep. Steube. “That’s increasing everyday. Now if you’re 50 or older you can take advantage of getting the vaccine. I believe we’re getting to the point where the people who are eligible and are at that age limit and want to go get that vaccine have the opportunity to do that.”
“Florida is slated to receive a total of 9 million doses between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in addition to 175,000 of the Johnson and Johnson doses,” continued Rep. Steube. “That’s a good percentage of the population in a short amount of time.”
The congressmen said the expansion of telehealth in the wake of COVID-19 has been tremendous, especially for rural counties. He added that there is an effort among lawmakers to keep the expansion to telehealth that came after COVID-19 permanently.
The American Rescue Plan was signed into law on March 11, which sent $1,400 to individuals making under $75,000, extended employment benefits, increased the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,600, and established a state and local recovery fund that will send $8.18 million to Okeechobee County. Rep.
Steube explained his vote against the bill was due to a concern that the extended unemployment benefits and money would dissuade people from working.
“There wasn’t a single Republican who voted for that legislation,” explained Rep. Steube. “It’s actually incentivising people not to want to go back, especially in your service industry jobs. Just yesterday when my wife and I went to lunch after church, the restaurant we go to couldn’t even open all the tables because they don’t have enough waitstaff. They keep trying to hire and there aren't people out there willing to work.”
When asked about the possibility of ending the annual daylight savings time change, the congressman said he supports ending the practice of changing clocks twice per year and feels there would be bipartisan support in Congress if a bill is brought to the floor.
One question posed to the congressman was regarding the “thousands of children coming over the border”, asking “how can states feel safe that more crime and COVID-19 aren’t being let into our country with no border control.”
“There’s a reason why it’s children coming across,” answered Rep. Steube. “We have chain migration laws in the United States. I have a bill that will do away with it. If the children get into the United States and Biden gives them amnesty, then they can bring in every single member in their family. I’m talking about great grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Some people call it the anchor baby law. That’s why you’re seeing this scourge of children being brought to the border.”