Meng Statement on End of Year Coronavirus Relief Package and Government Spending Bill
Dec 21, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed a massive package that included $900 billion in coronavirus relief funds and $1.4 trillion to fund the government.
“It’s been nearly nine months since American families received any COVID-19 relief from the federal government. In fact, since the last time the American people received any relief, over 326,000 people have died from this deadly pandemic, and nearly 18.5 million people have been infected. I am furious and deeply disappointed that this agreement falls so shamefully short of what millions of families need in this unprecedented crisis. But with this continued surge in cases and deaths, millions still unemployed; families on the cusp of eviction; and an untold number of families struggling to put food on the table, I had to vote for this relief package. People are suffering right now, and they need immediate help.
It’s beyond infuriating that the Senate Republicans kept any relief at bay – even though House Democrats passed COVID-19 relief packages in May and October, both of which would have been more meaningful than this Band-Aid of relief. This latest round of coronavirus relief does not even begin to go far enough. The $600 stimulus checks and unemployment benefits of up to $300 are a mere drop in the bucket for the millions of families that are in desperate need of help. There is no hazard pay. Our New York State and City – which was previously the epicenter of COVID-19 – needs critical funding. Shame on the Senate Majority Leader for refusing to consider those measures, and for waiting seven months to vote on additional aid.
Our families and communities need and deserve so much more. I am glad to see, however, several provisions that I fought to include in this package: additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program which are forgivable loans to small businesses; funding for schools and child care to help parents get back to work and keep child care providers open; rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium; stimulus payments to mixed status families; funding for the MTA; unemployment coverage to contract and gig workers; reduced price internet access devices to help students connect to the internet for remote learning; and increased SNAP funding and child nutrition programs. I am also relieved this package includes the necessary funding for vaccine distribution – because we must defeat this coronavirus once and for all.
In the coming months, Congress must pass a stronger relief bill – one that truly reflects and acknowledges the hardships that millions of Americans are facing. We cannot let those who have passed – to have died in vain. The only way we will rise above this crisis is to meet it head on with a comprehensive package that puts American families and workers first.
With respect to the government spending bill, I was proud to vote for funding to improve education, affordable housing, clean air and water, resources for our veterans, and measures to address gun violence and the climate crisis. But I refused to support more than a $1 billion for constructing President Trump’s reckless and ineffective wall along the southern border, as well as nearly $700 billion in bloated funding for the Department of Defense.”