Anyone with a mailbox can tell you this was an intense election cycle in our community. That’s the way it was all over the country. After the polls close, however, elected leaders need to get back to work. That means listening to each other, that means fighting for the needs of their constituents, and it means embracing compromise.
In Washington, there’s no more important piece of legislative business than passing a new COVID-19 relief package.
It’s especially critical for New York. For months, our region was the epicenter of the virus. Our state government’s projected revenue shortfall through 2022 is roughly $59 billion, a hole twice as big as the entire Georgia state budget.
Local governments and schools are facing crippling aid cuts. Thousands of small business owners did the right thing, sacrificed for their neighbors and either temporarily closed their doors or shouldered costly limitations to their operations. They need and deserve emergency assistance now.
That’s why it’s so important for lawmakers in Washington to ignore the most partisan voices in their caucuses and get behind a sensible bipartisan compromise that started in the Senate.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), two of the most pragmatic dealmakers in the Capitol, are pushing a bill that would provide desperately needed federal aid for state and local governments, public transit networks and school districts.
It would authorize over $288 billion in aid for small businesses and their workers. It would provide billions in aid to overburdened healthcare providers, stabilize lending programs, and expand access to childcare and addiction services. Critically, the bill would supplement existing funding from the CARES Act to bolster vaccine distribution.
Some strident voices on the left, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, don’t believe this package goes far enough.
However, I believe Democrats across the country need to understand that this bill is designed to provide emergency relief. It’s targeted. It prioritizes small businesses, healthcare providers and local governments. In New York, lawmakers can’t expect to be completely bailed out from years of fiscal mismanagement and overspending.
Likewise, there are lawmakers on the right who won’t be able to stomach the legislation’s $900 billion price tag. For starters, it’s much less than the trillions of dollars in aid Democrats in the House are seeking. And any realistic person would acknowledge that emergency problems require emergency solutions. People have suffered long enough. It’s time for action.
I’m hopeful that Sen. Manchin, Sen. Collins and members of the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House will be able to convince their colleagues to put partisan posturing aside, cut the overheated rhetoric and provide real relief to the American people.