WASHINGTON, D.C. [12/21/20]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) released the following statement on the coronavirus (COVID-19) relief and government funding agreement:
“This bipartisan COVID-19 emergency relief bill will provide much-needed and long-overdue relief to Minnesotans. In the midst of the dark days of this pandemic, this legislation is an economic and health bridge for Minnesota and all Americans, and it is desperately needed.
“During the course of 2020, my priorities have been Minnesota’s priorities—getting direct help to families, small businesses, and our health care system. This relief package supports all three of these priorities, and I’m very glad it includes many of the provisions I led and co-sponsored like extending Liberian American humanitarian protections, and including my Tribal housing bills, my wind energy legislation, and substantial support for my Loggers’ Relief Act to help Northern Minnesota.
“And for families, this legislative package provides direct relief for families fighting hunger, extended and expanded unemployment insurance, and rental assistance. This legislation also provides relief for small businesses and nonprofits, childcare providers, restaurants, music and entertainment venues, and resources to support minority-owned businesses.
“And for stronger, better health care to help Minnesota families, this legislation directs resources to help states distribute vaccines and improve testing to suppress COVID-19, and it finally takes action to protect Minnesotans from surprise medical bills. It supports mental health, telehealth and rural health.
“But the bill is far from perfect. I’m very disappointed that this legislation does not provide desperately needed help to local, state and Tribal governments, which face deep budget challenges through no fault of their own because of the historic economic downturn caused by COVID. Collectively, over 1 million Americans working in the public sector have lost their jobs due to budget challenges. This must be a priority when we return in the new year.
“COVID-19 has not been the great equalizer—it has laid bare the inequities in our county, and hit hardest our elders, frontline workers, and Black, Brown and Native people, and all people of color. This bill does not go nearly far enough to address the catastrophic challenges that many folks are experiencing right now paying rent, buying food, and caring for their children.
“There will be much more work for us all to do together so we can build back better in 2021.”