QUINCY — U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood believed President Joe Biden’s administration’s number one priority was to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to get the economy up and running. Instead, he says the $2 trillion stimulus plan disincentivized work.
“The economy was kind of spring loaded ready to come back, and we’re seeing that,” he said. “But again, all this money can be really detrimental in terms of inflation and dis incentivizing people to work.”
LaHood, R-Peoria, spent Thursday in Quincy meeting with various groups. One issue he heard from many business leaders was the difficulty in finding employees.
“I mean I’m all for people that need help and want it, but we’ve disincentivized work in the process,” LaHood, R-Peoria, said in an interview with The Herald-Whig. “I supported all five of the stimulus relief packages last year,” LaHood said. “I proudly did that. It was important to do that. I could not support the $2 trillion bill that Biden ran through. Not one Republic senator, not one Republican House member (supported it), so we deviated from bipartisanship.”
As the country transitions back to normal, he believes business need support, especially those in the disproportionately affected areas like restaurant and travel. He also agreed that getting vaccinated will help bring the economy back. LaHood said he and his family have been vaccinated, and he encouraged anyone with questions to consult their medical professional.
“Listen to the medical professionals, and I think universally they’ll tell you that need to get the vaccine,” LaHood said. “And don’t listen to the conspiracy theories as it relates to the vaccine.”
On last week’s announcement where Biden asked the intelligence community to determine whether the COVID-19 pandemic originated from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident in China, LaHood said it was 90 days too late.
“I serve on the Intelligence Committee now,” he said. “We issued a reported two weeks ago that laid out the circumstantial evidence that shows this could have come out of the (Wuhan Institute of Virology).”
LaHood has called for an independent investigation into the origin of the pandemic, even suggesting the U.S. consider boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing if China doesn’t cooperate.
He also defended his vote against creating a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol saying the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the House Administration Committee and the Senate Rules Committee all have active investigations into the incident.
“I believe those investigatory bodies are sufficiently looking into this, and I’m satisfied that is enough,” he said. “If at some point those aren’t satisfactory, I’m open minded for looking at a commission down the road.
With the U.S. Census complete, LaHood is waiting to see how the Illinois Legislature draws congressional maps, and hopes that Gov. J.B. Pritzker vetoes the map.
“As we saw with these maps last week at the state level, you have politicians picking their voters instead of voters picking their politicians,” he said. “It’s terribly unhealthy for democracy.”
Illinois is losing one of its 18 congressional seats, and lawmakers have yet to approve a map for congressional districts. LaHood said regardless of what the district looks like, he is prepared to run for re-election and work hard if elected.
“I don’t know what my district will look like,” LaHood said. “The preliminary maps have my district getting larger an more rural. I’m hopeful that Adams County and Quincy remains in the district.”
Locally, he said he is seeking a $4.8 million community funding grant that would support the Quincy riverfront master plan. He believes a hearing will be held on it as soon as this month.