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Pa. Senators Bob Casey And Pat Toomey At Strong Odds With Each Other On Stimulus Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KDKA) -- The U.S. Senate has begun debate on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and it's not the same as the plan approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Political editor Jon Delano spoke with both U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) to learn more about what it means for us.

When it comes to President Biden's pandemic relief bill, Casey and Toomey could not be further apart. Casey wants to go big to help Pennsylvanians, while Toomey thinks there's too much wasteful spending.

"This meets the moment," Casey says of the president's bill. "I think the danger here is greater to keep it small as opposed to hitting it really hard and making this the last coronavirus bill."

Toomey disagrees.

"This is a blue state bailout," he said, identifying states that voted for Biden.

"This is throwing money for years and years and years at schools regardless of whether they open. This is sending checks to people who have never lost a dime of income. It's really completely indefensible. It's not about COVID," added Toomey.

The Senate bill does not include the $15 per hour minimum wage hike in the House bill, and 17 million fewer Americans will get a stimulus check because of lower-income caps in the Senate bill.

"I would have preferred to keep it at the levels where it was in the House bill," said Casey.

WATCH: Full Interviews With Sens. Casey And Toomey

"It's a very, very modest tweak," Toomey says of the reduced income levels.

The Senate bill drops some projects but funds more rural hospitals, broadband service, help for the homeless and, smaller states. Toomey sees more race-based "pork" like a program to help minority farmers.

"If you are a white farmer, you get zero. If you're a minority farmer, you get your loan paid off, plus another 20 percent. How is that defensible?" he said.

Casey says so much more is at stake here.

"States and local governments need help as well because if we don't, we're going to have firefighters laid off. We're going to have teachers laid off and others. Nobody wants that," Casey said.

Republicans are tossing up procedural roadblocks, but Toomey acknowledges the bill is likely to pass.

"We're going to drag this out and in the end, the Democrats will probably have the votes and will probably pass this. But we're going to make sure the American people know what's in it first," said the Republican.

Final passage is expected by Saturday, and the House must approve the Senate version before it goes to the president.

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