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Congress must pass a bipartisan COVID relief bill — soon

It’s important to pass a bill in the next two weeks. The needs are urgent.

photo of us capitol dome
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate has taken the initiative by proposing a $908 billion COVID aid bill as a transition package until President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.

The only obstacles to Congress passing another COVID relief bill appear to be bad politics and bad judgment.

Food shelf lines are growing. Health care policies are lapsing. Kids are hurting.

Yet, Democrats and Republican leaders in Congress appear unable to come to a compromise stimulus/relief bill for reasons that are hard to imagine in light of overwhelming support from Wall Street, Main Street and even President Donald Trump.

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Now, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate has taken the initiative by proposing a $908 billion COVID aid bill as a transition package until President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The bill would extend expiring programs past the Dec. 31 deadline for the initial CARES Act money.

That’s a wise and necessary move given the nationwide spike in COVID cases and re-shuttering of some businesses.

The plan would extend unemployment payments by an additional $300 a week through March and fund the Payroll Protection Program with $288 billion. It would also provide state and local governments with $160 billion. Another $16 billion would go toward vaccine distribution, $82 billion to education and $45 billion to transportation, childcare, rental assistance and broadband.

Although Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have not signaled their approval, the bipartisan group of lawmakers deserve their support for the plan.

It’s important to pass this in the next two weeks. The needs are urgent.

And while it’s not as big as Pelosi’s earlier proposal for a $2 trillion plan, it also doesn’t give Republicans the blanket protection of business from COVID –related lawsuits. It does give them temporary protection. And that’s reasonable.

Now that the election is over, McConnell and Pelosi have no reason to return to the respective corners of political posturing.

The bipartisan bill is a solid start. Congress should pass it soon.

Reprinted with permission from the Mankato Free Press.

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