Durbin: We Must Pass a Bipartisan COVID-19 Emergency Relief Bill Before the Holidays

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on Congress to pass a bipartisan COVID-19 emergency relief package before leaving for the holidays.  Congressional leadership is currently negotiating a package based off the $748 billion, bipartisan COVID-19 emergency relief legislation that Durbin helped negotiate.  The package includes funding for unemployment insurance, small businesses, vaccine distribution and COVID-19 testing, health care providers, housing and education assistance, and more. 

“At the end of the day we produced two documents. One of these documents was a $748 billion consensus document that we thought was essential as part of any COVID relief package. [It] extends unemployment benefits for 16 weeks, including [for] about 160,000 people in my state who claim the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and 248,000 [who claim] Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Millions of Americans, 12 million Americans, [will lose] their unemployment compensation on the day after Christmas. Imagine that.” 

Durbin also discussed his disappointment that funding for state and local governments was not included in the $748 billion package.

“We do not include direct relief for state and local governments. I hope we can return to that issue soon, very quickly, after the first of the year, and perhaps with a new president and find a way to provide this relief. The alternative is awful. I know what's going to happen to a lot of the local budgets. Police officers are going to be furloughed, firefighters, teachers, health care workers, just at a moment in time when we need them the most, many of these communities will be unable to continue providing those very fundamental services to keep us safe,” Durbin said.

Durbin also urged Congressional negotiators to come together on a deal to fund the government before the Continuing Resolution (CR) expires tonight at midnight.  

“It would be a real tragedy if we saw this government come to a close for any reason at any time and certainly at this moment when our economy is so tenuous and our worries are so large over the health care of our nation, we shouldn't allow this to occur. I pray that the negotiators will be able to spend good time today and report to us soon that they have reached an agreement,” Durbin concluded.  

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.