Gov. Inslee: New COVID relief package ‘can only be considered a down-payment’
With Congress agreeing to a new $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, local leaders in Washington state have stopped short of praising it as a permanent solution to the financial and economic devastation brought on by the pandemic.
“Make no mistake — this package can only be considered a down-payment on the relief needed to fully recover from this pandemic,” Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday.
The package revives the Paycheck Protection Program, allocates $30 billion toward vaccine distribution efforts, $82 billion for schools, colleges, and universities, $25 billion in rental assistance, and $166 billion to distribute $600 direct payments to Americans making up to $75,000 and couples pulling in up to $150,000.
While Inslee said that he was “disappointed” that the bill won’t include direct aid for state, local, and tribal governments, he noted that it will still “provide sorely needed support for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians who are struggling with joblessness, hunger and housing insecurity.”
Washington Congressman Derek Kilmer echoed the governor’s thoughts, emphasizing the need for more aid.
“This has kind of been like repeating the scene from Jaws over and over, where Brody says ‘we’re going to need a bigger boat,'” Kilmer told KIRO Radio. “Every time there’s been a federal response bill, very soon thereafter there’s a recognition that there hasn’t been enough.”
Fellow Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal voiced her own concerns as well, specifically citing the individual payments as insufficient.
“One $600 check isn’t enough,” she said. “We’re putting money in people’s pockets, but in a crisis of this scale, people need and deserve so much more.”
Both Kilmer and Inslee also expressed hope that a larger relief package could be achieved once President-elect Joe Biden takes office in late January.
“Our work must continue with the Biden-Harris administration and the 117th Congress to secure additional aid to families and ensure states have the resources to preserve core programs and services that Americans rely on,” Inslee said.
Republican and Democratic leaders announced they had reached an agreement on the new COVID relief bill over the weekend, with Congress expected to vote on it Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report