On December 22, 2020, the House voted to approve a $900 billion coronavirus-relief package. Elements of the COVID-19 relief bill include various areas of economic relief that include, accelerate vaccine distribution, support small businesses, rental assistance, nutrition assistance for families, education and childcare, strengthen Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, employee retention tax credit, continue unemployment insurance benefits and secure a new round of direct payment checks to worth up to $600 per adult and child, also ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments. The following are remarks from House and Senate members:
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette
The short-term relief that this bill will provide to millions of families is important, but it doesn’t do nearly enough to provide everyone with the support they need to get through this crisis.
While this bill increases unemployment benefits for those who lost their job, extends the current ban of evictions and foreclosures for those who are behind on their rent and mortgage payments, and provides most Americans with another round of direct stimulus payments – there is still so much more that Congress needs to do to help our communities.
Recognizing the urgent needs of this country, in May, the House passed the HEROES Act which would have given $3 trillion in aid for our citizens, small businesses, and state and local governments. It’s inexcusable that Senate Republicans spent months refusing to even work with us on a broader bill. It never should have taken Congress this long to provide the American people with the help they need.
We are in the midst of one of the worst public health crises our nation has ever seen. It’s time for every member of Congress to put aside their petty partisan differences and find a way to work together to provide the American people the help they need to weather this storm.
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow
As I walked up the Capitol stairs and cast my vote today, the words of the thousands of Coloradans I’ve heard from during this pandemic echoed in my mind. The stories of dying loved ones, bankrupt businesses, exhausted healthcare workers, and lost life savings. Coloradans need help and this bill should have been passed months ago.
I grew up knowing what it felt like to struggle month to month. That fear and anxiety of not knowing where the next rent check would come from. Working a shift at Arby’s or a 14-hour day on the construction site and still not making ends meet. That’s why I’m voting for this bill. As imperfect as it is, it will help provide relief for the millions of families and small businesses who simply can’t wait any longer. I didn’t come to Congress to play politics with people’s lives. I came here to find a path to progress, and that’s what I will continue to do.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter
While additional relief should have come months ago, I’m glad Congress reached agreement on a COVID relief package to extend several programs such as rental assistance, student loan deferment, and small business funding while providing support for individuals and families through direct payments and unemployment assistance. This package will also support our healthcare system to ensure efficient distribution of the vaccine and continued expansion of testing as well as funding for our education system to support kids getting back to in-person learning.
As the pandemic continues to surge across much of the country, communities everywhere need additional relief as soon as possible. This package is a down payment on that relief. I’m hopeful under a new Biden administration we’ll take further steps in providing relief for state and local governments which were left out due to irrational claims by Congressional Republicans. As the vaccine is rolled out to more Americans in the coming months, I’m hopeful we can turn to more stimulative measures to rebuild our economy and continue our recovery.
We began the 116th Congress in a partial government shutdown after Congressional Republicans let funding lapse over the holidays, and I am glad we came together to negotiate strong government funding bills which invest in our country’s future. These appropriations bills include important priorities for Colorado’s 7th Congressional District including strong support for the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, continued growth for NASA and our nation’s aerospace programs, and investments in scientific research.
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse
Economic relief for American families, businesses and local governments is long overdue. In our state, and across the country, the economic impacts of the pandemic have placed tremendous financial burden on families and communities, leaving far too many out of work, unable to pay rent, put food on the table or keep their businesses open. Today, I voted to pass a long overdue economic stimulus to provide emergency relief to support the American people, as many programs are set to expire at the end of the year. The package includes an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, direct economic payments, funds for small businesses, schools, nutrition assistance programs, transit, rental assistance and vaccine distribution.
Getting relief into the hands of Coloradans and Americans quickly is essential. However, we must continue our work to ensure we are meeting the scale and urgency of this crisis with continued assistance for Americans. In the new year, I hope to see the Senate and the House return to the negotiating table on another package that fully meets the needs of all Americans. While the pandemic continues to take lives and bring tremendous hardship on our economy, we must continue to provide the funds and resources required to help the American people weather this crisis.
U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján
After needless months of delay, Congress came together to pass COVID-19 funding. Although this legislation is not perfect, it provides desperately needed help for struggling families and businesses, bolsters the public health response to the pandemic, strengthens our economic recovery, and keeps the federal government running. For months, New Mexicans have been demanding this additional support to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, and now they’re finally receiving it. But this pandemic isn’t over, and more help is needed to support New México families, small businesses, and our state, local, and Tribal governments.
This funding package boosts New México’s economy by investing in Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs, improves access to quality health care in rural and underserved communities by implementing my ECHO Act, doubles federal funding for Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers, and supports Tribal and traditional communities. This package defends our public lands and water resources by instituting a moratorium on oil and gas drilling on federal lands near Chaco Canyon, a sacred place for the Pueblos and the Navajo Nation, and by passing the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act. Additionally, it includes my legislation to ensure state Medicaid plans across the country follow New México’s lead by allowing all Medicaid enrollees to participate in potentially life-saving clinical trials. I’ll continue working to ensure that the voices of New Mexicans are heard in Washington and reflected in Congress’s funding priorities.
U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
This COVID-19 relief legislation provides valuable assistance for struggling American families, but falls short of the relief that Nevadans need to face the challenges they’ve been coping with during this pandemic. I’m proud of the relief I fought for and that was included for in this package, like expanded support for small businesses and tax relief to ensure more businesses in Nevada can keep their employees while we get through this pandemic. Although Congress stepped up today in a bipartisan way to provide some important things – more money for vaccine distribution, an extension of expanded unemployment insurance benefits and pandemic unemployment assistance, support for our live entertainment industry, and stimulus checks for those most in need — including for mixed-status families — more needs to be done. I’ll continue fighting for important funding for state, local, and tribal governments, additional support for health care workers, home health workers and hospitals, and more relief for our hardest-hit hospitality and tourism industries.
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva
This relief package should have been passed months ago, but it is a welcome step toward providing the resources we need to end the pandemic and get families, workers and small businesses the support they need to stay safe. It’s a down payment for future relief that ensures assistance to American workers through direct payments, extended unemployment insurance, and desperately needed rental assistance while expanding the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. I am proud to have worked on securing provisions such as financial support for live music venues and tribal assistance that will especially benefit our district.
A crisis of this magnitude requires an equal response from our government, and we have continually fallen short. Senate Republicans and the White House chose to play politics while the virus spread across our country, killing our loved ones, overwhelming hospitals, and shuttering beloved businesses. They put in more work to protect corporations from liability instead of protecting our communities from the virus and its economic consequences. Some tried to block the inclusion of survival checks, and others tried to hamper the ability of the incoming Biden Administration to combat this crisis.
There is still more to be done, and we will need to get to work immediately in the new Congress to pass yet another bill before the expiration of the eviction and student loan moratoriums. We have the ability to save both lives and livelihoods, and future relief packages should reflect this.
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