Democrats are arguing that the $900 billion set aside in the latest relief package isn’t enough, and that they want to enact more relief bills next year.
The measure, which overwhelmingly cleared both chambers of Congress on Monday, sends out another round of “economic impact” payments of $600 for individuals and each child dependent, adds $300 to extended weekly unemployment benefits, and provides more than $300 billion in aid for small businesses.
Congressional Democratic leaders applauded the relief package, but described it as only a small piece of what’s needed to help the Americans overcome the economic hardship caused by harsh shutdowns imposed across the country in response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
“I would hope that as we see the need for what we have done in this nearly $900 billion legislation that we’ll vote on today that everyone understands it’s a first step,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a floor speech Monday. “It’s a first step, and we will need to do more.”
“The bill today is a good bill. Today is a good day. But it is certainly not the end of the story, and it cannot be the end of the story,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Senate floor Monday. “Anyone who thinks this bill is enough doesn’t know what’s going on in America.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described Democratic socialist, took issue with the fact that the pandemic relief check is only half as much as under the CARES Act passed last spring, saying that Democratic negotiators had to settle for less than they had hoped for.
“While we did not get as much as we wanted, the average family of four will receive a direct payment of $2400,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. “In this horrific crisis, we must fight for more relief.”
Both parties have dropped one of their priorities in order to find a common ground. The finalized relief package does not grant legal protections for businesses operating during the pandemic that Republicans had sought, and neither does it provide direct aid for state and local governments that Democrats had wanted.
Meanwhile, some Republicans complained that the $900 billion price tag was too high, especially considering Congress has already spent $3 trillion this year in an effort to boost a previously booming economy devastated during the pandemic.
“It’s clear that government has worsened the economic damage and acted as the biggest obstacle to economic recovery,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the six senators voting against the relief package, said on the Senate floor Monday night. “The answer is not printing up and distributing free money. It’s opening the economy.”