As our public health and the nation’s economic stability continue to hang in the balance, it is clear the American people need more help to get through this pandemic. I’m pleased to share that additional aid will soon come to Rhode Island. Yesterday, Congress passed a legislative package that, while not perfect, reflects bipartisan consensus. It keeps the federal government open, delivers critical aid to those most in need, ends the practice of surprise medical billing, and supports Rhode Island manufacturing with funds for the Virginia-class submarine program.
The COVID-19 relief package will get cash into the pockets of working families struggling to make ends meet with $600 relief payments. It will deliver additional aid for our small businesses to keep their doors open with $304 billion in forgivable loans and grants. Based on feedback I heard from Rhode Islanders, I fought to include $15 billion in targeted assistance for live venues and cultural institutions.
Further, this package will ensure that people who have lost their jobs can stay afloat with $300 supplemental weekly unemployment benefits and the extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed who haven’t been able to get back on the job while the pandemic rages. To fight COVID-19 directly, we include close to $9 billion to support robust vaccination operations. This package will dedicate considerable resources to help the hardest hit Americans continue to put food on their tables with enhanced food benefits and keep roofs over their heads with an extension of the eviction moratorium and $25 billion in emergency relief for renters.
By no means is this package a silver bullet, but it does represent real progress. After all, it has been more than six months since the House first passed the Heroes Act to provide relief to struggling Americans. The challenges we face today did not appear overnight, and Congress will have to provide additional support if we hope to continue to turn the corner. I am pleased we could work across the aisle to advance this bill, and I’m ready to get to work on another once President-elect Biden takes the helm.
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