@MyKitchenTable: Thursday, February 4, 2021
Today’s inspiration: "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller
That’s why on this next COVID-19 package, I’ve been pretty outspoken about the need for the Biden Administration to work with Republicans in Congress to pass a strong, bipartisan, targeted relief deal. We just passed a deal at the end of December worth $900 billion. We have this proposed plan by the Biden Administration for $1.9 trillion. We know folks are still struggling and a number of items – including state and local aid and liability protections – didn’t make it into the last package. But we need to review where that $900 billion was spent, what’s working, and where do we need more to support the country’s economy and health recovery. Yesterday, a group of Republican members sent a letter to the President urging him to work with lawmakers from both parties to negotiate and advance the next round of COVID-19 relief.
Despite strong support now on both sides of the aisle for an additional pandemic relief package that includes funds to strengthen national vaccination and testing programs, immediate assistance to individuals and families, and expanded support for struggling businesses, Democratic Leaders in Congress have signaled they intend to forgo meaningful bipartisan negotiations, resorting instead to the partisan budget reconciliation process. This tool allows spending legislation, such as COVID-19 relief, to be enacted without bipartisan support. That would be a mistake. You can see our letter to the President HERE.
The Problem Solver’s Caucus today proposed that while talks about a COVID-19 relief deal are ongoing, we should quickly pass a standalone $160 billion “Defeating COVID-19” vaccine distribution package. This deal would allow us to expedite the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine by allocating new funds for the national distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as support expanded testing programs, PPE purchases, and other key initiatives to beat this deadly virus. Stay tuned on this.
A few other items of note:
- February is Black History Month, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the achievements of African-Americans today and throughout history. There are also a number of local events still happening – mostly virtual because of COVID-19 – to mark the occasion, including from the Kalamazoo Public Library HERE and HERE, and MLIVE has a list of events HERE.
- Rural counties here in Michigan have been hit especially hard by the problems with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and WOOD TV did a story you can see HERE. Accelerating the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is a top priority for me and this is an issue I’ll raise with our federal, state, and local partners.
- A bit of good news is that the state reported that every person who wants a coronavirus vaccine who lives in a skilled nursing facility in Michigan has had the chance to get at least a first dose, which you can read more about HERE.
Thank you, Deon, for your service!
Last but certainly not least, I had the honor of meeting Deon Atkins, a Capitol Police Officer who defended our Capitol on January 6 and is a 2011 graduate of Benton Harbor High School. He’s a true local hero, and I told him how grateful I am for his incredible service to our nation. Thank you, Deon!