Merkley Votes to Advance Plan to Deliver Stimulus Checks to Struggling Americans, Support Frontline Workers and Main Street Businesses, Re-open Schools, and Speed Vaccinations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement today following his vote to advance the process for the latest coronavirus relief proposal, which would provide badly-needed aid to help Americans make it through the pandemic:

“I am deeply grateful to the public health workers and researchers who are working tirelessly around the clock to develop, manufacture, and distribute coronavirus vaccines to millions of Americans. Their work represents some of the important steps forward in our fight against this virus, and they are inspiring hope in one of America’s most difficult winters. Now it’s up to Congress to make sure those health workers have the resources necessary to ramp up the distribution of the vaccines, and that our communities get what they need to stay safe while they wait for their doses.

“I’ve heard throughout my conversations with educators, business owners, frontline health workers and other essential workers, and families from all across Oregon about the difference more stimulus checks, personal protective equipment, and loans would make in weathering this storm. This package will deliver on those needs, as well as help with desperately needed child care, keep people on the brink from being evicted, and help state, local, and tribal governments avoid laying off firefighters, teachers, and others we depend on. And of course, it will—a year late—finally fund a true national strategy to support testing and vaccinations.

“The American people were sick and tired of the ‘delay and water down’ relief strategy that was so characteristic of the last administration and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. That’s why they gave President Biden and Democratic majorities in the U.S. House and Senate a strong mandate to deliver bold emergency relief, and I’m gratified that today’s vote will take us one step closer to delivering on that promise.”

Merkley was at the forefront of the fight to include protections against utility shut-offs in the relief package, and kept a steady drumbeat on the need to ensure that economic relief doesn’t line the pockets of America’s billionaires, but is instead delivered to Main Street businesses and underserved communities.

Today’s vote sets up an expedited process for congressional committees to draft and pass relief legislation that matches the contours proposed by President Joe Biden, which will then return to the Senate floor for a final vote and passage in the coming weeks.