WASHINGTON, D.C.—Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after a marathon of votes that culminated in the Senate passage of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan:
“Good news, America: Relief is finally on the way. The American Rescue Plan is going to put money in people’s pockets, vaccines in their arms, kids in classrooms, and open signs on Main Street businesses. And it’s not a moment too soon.
“This past year will go down in our nation’s history books as one of our most difficult and frightening chapters. More than half a million Americans—including over two thousand Oregonians—have lost their lives to the coronavirus. Millions have lost their jobs, and are struggling to keep the lights on and stay in their homes. Frontline workers—especially those in vulnerable and medically underserved communities—are still facing shortages of personal protective equipment. Educators are working tirelessly to keep educating our children, some of whom have not stepped foot in a classroom for nearly a full year. State and local governments have lost critical revenue they need to pay firefighters and first responders.
“For too long, the American people have been waiting for the kind of bold, decisive action it’s going to take to beat back this virus, get Americans back on their feet, and safely re-open our schools. Today’s vote means that kind of relief is finally within sight—including stimulus checks; extended unemployment insurance for the 20 million Americans who are relying on the program and would otherwise lose it at the end of next week; resources local governments need to provide vital services; support for our frontline workers and Main Streets; resources to safely help get students back in the classroom; and a national strategy to make testing easier and vaccines distributed as quickly as possible.
“While much work remains to be done in the coming months to help our communities survive and recover during this crisis, this relief package is an enormous step forward. I look forward to continuing to work with Oregonians, my colleagues, and with President Biden to build on this progress.”
The legislation must now be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives before heading to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.