Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released the following statement after voting against U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) skinny COVID relief package:
“Since we passed the CARES Act, Mitch McConnell has been the biggest obstacle to passing another comprehensive COVID relief package that meets the needs of the American people. The Majority Leader should heed his advice to Democrats in 2014 and ‘put the political show votes aside for once and finally join us to give Americans what they’ve been asking for’––support for families to meet basic needs, support for small businesses and communities, and a national contact tracing and testing strategy.
“The McConnell package will not do enough for families who have to decide to either feed their family or pay their rent this month. It will not provide longer-term support for the hardest-hit small businesses and nonprofits. It will not do anything for state and local governments that need support to continue to provide critical services to their communities. It will not do enough to bolster our public health infrastructure to support testing and contact tracing efforts.
“Americans need a relief package now that includes an expanded unemployment benefit, longer-term support for our hardest-hit small businesses and nonprofits, support for state and local governments, and a national testing and contact tracing strategy to tackle this public health crisis and safely keep our economy open. I will continue to work with anyone who wants to pass a real relief package.”
Background on Bennet’s COVID priorities:
Supporting workers and families
- Unemployment Insurance: Bennet introduced the Worker Relief and Security Act to expand unemployment benefits for workers who have lost their jobs, and tie the benefits to economic conditions so they gradually decrease as unemployment rates decline.
- Food Assistance: Bennet introduced a plan in April to increase SNAP benefits by 15%, cut red tape, and tie the benefit to economic conditions.
- Rent Relief: Bennet introduced the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020 to provide $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help prevent evictions.
- Child Tax Credit (CTC) & Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): Bennet called for a temporary expansion of the CTC and EITC to provide additional support for the most vulnerable families and workers.
Supporting our hardest-hit small businesses and nonprofits
- RESTART Act: Bennet introduced the RESTART Act to provide small- and mid-sized businesses and nonprofits with flexible loans to cover six months of costs, with generous repayment terms and loan forgiveness to help fill in revenue losses. This is the only bipartisan bill that looks beyond PPP to ensure temporary job losses don’t become permanent. First introduced in May, the legislation is now supported by 57 Senate co-sponsors, more than 8,700 small business owners, and more than 100 current and former prominent CEOs, including entrepreneur and philanthropist Howard Schultz.
Funding our state, local, and tribal governments
- Flexible Fiscal Relief: Bennet has called for increased funding for state, local, and tribal governments, including $500 billion for state governments, $375 billion for local governments, and $20 billion for tribal governments, so they aren’t forced to lay off teachers and other essential workers, cut back on critical services, or shortchange repairs to our roads and bridges.
- Health Coverage: In July, Bennet introduced legislation to increase federal support for state Medicaid programs to meet heightened health coverage needs, and maintain those increases until the economy recovers. In September, Congress passed key reforms, spearheaded by Bennet, to Medicare's payments program to reduce interest rates and modify repayment obligations for health care providers facing immense financial strain due to COVID-19.
- Education: Bennet called for increased funding to provide support for K-12 and higher education institutions with budget shortfalls. He also introduced the BRIDGE Act to deploy affordable, high-speed broadband nationwide to meet the needs of distance learning.
Tackling the public health crisis
- Health Force: Bennet introduced legislation to establish a national Health Force to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for people out of work, while filling positions at state and local public health agencies and their partners that are critical for community health, including contact tracers and case managers.
- National Strategy: Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bennet has called for a coordinated, national strategy for testing, contact tracing, and PPE.
- Rural Hospitals & Providers: Bennet introduced legislation to provide an immediate influx of funding for relief and stabilization for rural hospitals, and ensure providers have financial support.