Bonamici Helps Secure Relief, Unemployment Benefits, Cash Assistance for Oregonians
WASHINGTON, DC [12/21/20] –Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici helped the House pass bipartisan legislation to provide needed relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has raged for nearly a year, threatening the health of Oregonians and pushing many working families to the brink of financial collapse,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “The heartbreaking loss of life and economic damage inflicted by COVID-19 demand bold action from Congress. I’ve long fought for additional economic relief that meets the scale and scope of this crisis. Although I am grateful that this package will put some money directly into the hands of Oregonians and help stave off some of the worst effects of the pandemic, I acknowledge that there is still more to be done.
“Fortunately many frontline health care workers in Oregon and across the country have already received vaccinations, but we know it’s going to take a massive effort to make vaccines available to all. This relief package will accelerate the distribution of vaccines, improve testing, and help overcome the barriers faced by communities of color.
“The bill passed today also includes a critical extension of unemployment insurance for nearly 72,000 Oregonians, and a $300 per week enhancement of the benefits, which will help provide a lifeline to so many people who are out of work. Additionally, the bill provides a new round of $600 direct payments for individuals and families, including many families who were previously denied assistance because of the immigration status of a household member. This is much less than the ongoing, direct cash assistance to Oregon families I’ve been advocating for throughout the pandemic, and it is infuriating that we could not convince Senate Republicans to provide more direct relief to people in such dire need.
“This new relief package also expands support for small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our communities and our economy. There are provisions to help independent venues, the arts, nonprofit organizations, and more. Unfortunately, many small, independent restaurants are closing daily. This bill takes some steps to help them, but not enough, and I won’t let up in my fight to secure the additional aid they need.
“Importantly, this bill includes relief funding for schools and institutions of higher education that will help them better meet the needs of their students during the pandemic, including funding that can help schools prepare to reopen to students. We also know that our economy will not recover until parents, and particularly mothers, can access affordable child care. I am glad that this legislation includes $10 billion in child care assistance, but without more we will not see an economic recovery.
“Food insecurity has been increasing across Oregon and the country, and this bill increases SNAP benefits and provides funding for child nutrition programs to help make sure families and children do not go hungry. The bill will also help keep families in their homes by extending the moratorium on evictions and providing rental assistance.
“This relief package will make a meaningful difference to our communities, but it is not nearly enough to fully account for the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is reprehensible that for months Senate Republicans fought our efforts to get this urgent relief to our communities and the people who need it. I will continue fighting for more aid to help our families, workers, and businesses stay safe, recover, and rebuild.”
The House also passed the Congresswoman’s Water Power Research and Development Act, bipartisan legislation to increase investments in marine energy, as part of the end of year relief and spending package. More information can be found here.