Reed Working Around the Clock to Help Advance Major COVID-19 Relief Bill That is Long Overdue
WASHINGTON, DC – With new, more contagious variants of COVID-19 surfacing, Senator Reed says it is urgent that Congress swiftly pass a major COVID-19 relief package that includes key initiatives, such as funds to boost vaccine distribution and local health infrastructure, $1,400 direct stimulus payments, state and local aid, expanded unemployment insurance, housing and LIHEAP assistance, and support for schools and libraries.
“As new variants emerge, we need to strengthen our response and this COVID-19 relief package is crucial to saving lives, avoiding another major spike in infections, and helping families, businesses, and communities recover. The simple fact is Donald Trump’s disjointed, neglectful approach to COVID-19 was a failure. We’ve got to make up for lost time. And that means marshaling appropriate resources and ensuring a coordinated, evidence-based, and results-oriented approach,” said Senator Reed. “Health experts are encouraging people to wear two masks to prevent the spread of new, more-transmissible strains of the virus. And policy experts are saying more resources are required to stop the spread, get everyone vaccinated, and uplift families and the country from this ordeal. Vaccine production and distribution are steadily improving, but now is the time to crush COVID-19 and move our country forward.”
The U.S. Senate is holding a ‘vote-a-rama’ today on a series of amendments and procedural moves related to processing an emergency pandemic aid plan. Some amendments will have bipartisan support and will improve the legislation. Others are designed to further delay and derail the process. The Senate will have to overcome these so-called ‘poison pill’ amendments to ensure that the large-scale COVID-19 relief package moves forward and provides the assistance the American people desperately need.
The budget resolution adopted today will set the stage for a process known as “budget reconciliation,” which prevents a filibuster of fiscal legislation that must meet very specific and technical criteria under Senate rules.
This is the same procedure Republicans used to pass the Trump tax giveaway in 2017, and also used in a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate, under Democratic leadership, is using this procedure to prioritize families, save lives and livelihoods, and better ensure an economic recovery that focuses on our neighbors who have struggled the most as a result of this pandemic.
The budget resolution the Senate is focusing on today would set spending levels for committees of jurisdiction and instruct them to report back with legislation to meet those budget targets. So this is just one step in a process to enact the COVID-19 relief package. As the process proceeds, Members of Congress and the White House continue negotiations over the final contents of the package.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 218-212 to approve its budget resolution.
In order for such a package to be approved, a final, uniform version will have to be agreed to by both chambers.