WASHINGTON, DC – With COVID-19 infection rates soaring, job losses piling up, and many small businesses being forced to shut down, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) says it is imperative for Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to come to the negotiating table to hammer out another COVID-19 relief package that can be passed and signed into law before several key federal assistance programs expire before the end of the year.

“The Trump Administration’s failure to aggressively confront COVID-19 has cost people’s lives and livelihoods.  Senate Republicans should not compound that error by delaying and low-balling needed federal aid any longer.  This is a national pandemic that requires a coordinated federal response.  I hope every single one of my colleagues had a safe, pleasant Thanksgiving back home and a chance to talk to the people they represent.  It’s difficult to comprehend how anyone who talks to frontline workers, small business owners, and folks who run food pantries, hospitals, schools, and senior care facilities can continue to stonewall significant levels of emergency relief.  Millions of Americans are in dire need of emergency assistance and Republican obstruction is adding to the financial strain on families and burdens on communities.  The delay in aid has already cost our nation dearly.  It is past time for Senate Republicans to stop drawing lines in the sand and constructively work on a comprehensive COVID relief package,” said Senator Reed.

Senator Reed was part of a twenty-person bipartisan working group that negotiated key sections of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which passed the U.S. Senate on March 25, 2020.  Reed took a lead role in creating the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for states and successfully insisted on a $1.25 billion small state minimum and no state or local matching requirement.

Today, Senator Reed noted that several key provisions of the CARES Act are set to end just as COVID-19 infection rates are surging and flu season is approaching, including:

•           Enhanced unemployment insurance

•           Small business assistance

•           Eviction ban and mortgage relief

•           Paid sick leave provisions

•           Student loan forbearance

•           401(k) hardship withdrawal and loan relief

•           Coronavirus Relief Funds


Senator Reed has supported several pieces of legislation to responsibly address these issues and enhance federal aid for families, small businesses, and state and local governments.

Senator Reed says a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package should be comprehensive and include: An extension of pandemic unemployment benefits and aid for workers; renewal of small business programs, including Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance; additional aid and flexibility for state and local governments; increased funding for hospitals, testing, contact tracing and vaccine distribution; funding for housing and rental assistance, food assistance, schools, libraries, and technology; direct payments to hard hit taxpayers and their dependents.

“This is a truly national emergency, and unemployment remains far too high.  The price of inaction is needless economic stress and suffering by those who can least afford it.  Time is of the essence and relief is overdue.  This isn’t something states can fix on their own.  The federal government needs to step up and do its job,” concluded Reed.  “COVID-19 infection rates are surging and if the federal government doesn’t provide a surge of new COVID-19 relief then the long-term damage could be severe.”

According to the U.S. Census Household Survey, over one-third of Americans, including nearly 30% of Rhode Islanders, say they currently live in households where it is difficult to afford household expenses such as food, rent or mortgage, and student loans.