Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today announced a long-overdue deal for a coronavirus relief bill, which will provide Americans with desperately needed resources as they struggle through the third, deadliest wave of the global pandemic. Merkley also noted that at $900 billion, the relief falls far short of actual need, and is just a shadow of the comprehensive relief bill that the U.S. House of Representatives passed in May.
“This deal is certainly better than nothing at all, given the great need across our nation,” Merkley said. “But let’s be clear: This is a stopgap measure, and much more is needed to get American families and businesses back on their feet, and the economy back in gear.
“After spending $2 trillion in 2017 for tax cuts benefiting the richest Americans, Republicans are now shorting hard-working Americans and small businesses in desperate need. These negotiations should have been treated with urgency. I’m going to continue pushing to make sure the federal government does better, working quickly and with compassion to make sure families have the resources they need to get through this crisis, and then to thrive. The key is to rebuild the economy from families and Main Street up, not Wall Street down. We’ll have a lot more work to do once President Biden is in the White House.”
The bill includes an additional $300 for enhanced federal jobless benefits through the spring; $600 per person of one-time stimulus payments for qualifying families; vital food and rental assistance for families; additional relief to support small businesses, schools and other organizations; funding to distribute the coronavirus vaccines; and extended the deadline for the Coronavirus Relief Fund. After an impasse in negotiations around the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority, the bill also includes compromise language that keeps intact the Fed’s tools to respond to emergencies.