Senator Blumenthal Provides COVID Relief Updates, Answers Questions
Senator Richard Blumenthal joined the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT via Zoom on February 18.
Senator Blumenthal described the dire circumstances of families and businesses in face of the pandemic and made the case for an aggressive bill, The American Rescue Plan, the fifth aid package representing $1.9 trillion in aid to small businesses, hospitals, and state and local governments.
“We cannot low ball this next relief package. We need to go big,” said the senator, noting the input of leading economists and the of the head of the Federal Reserve, who foresee a prolonged recovery and period of unemployment if the stimulus now is insufficient.
Planned aid includes direct $1400 stimulus checks to individuals, extended unemployment benefits with continued supplemental payments, increased support for the state’s vaccination implementation, and resources for safe school openings. The plan expands small business and shuttered venue aid.
The plan includes support for state and local governments who cannot borrow to meet a deficit. “We need to help them retain their firefighters, their police, their teachers. To meet that need, they are going to have to fill a budget hole,” said Senator Blumenthal.
The goal is to have the legislation on the president’s desk by the beginning of March with stimulus ready to go out in mid-March.
“We have learned from history going too low has serious perils and pitfalls. Delay is unacceptable. We need to move forward with a program that meets this moment,” said the senator.
Also, Senator Blumenthal characterized the recent National Defense Authorization Act as a triumph for Connect and the country’s national security, securing funding for two Virginia Class submarines each year and increased numbers of F35s and helicopters. A question during the Q&A addressed workforce issues opened conversation about the funding for training included in the defense bill at the urging of Senator Blumenthal.
Senator Blumenthal answered questions for the majority of the hour plus event, addressing issues including the national deficit, tax deductions for businesses, impacts of reduced SALT deductions, infrastructure funding for the future, national security in the face of cyber-attacks, voting rights concerns, and continued efforts to control the pandemic with emerging variants.
The event was sponsored by We Work for Health Connecticut, a collaboration of emerging biotech and biopharma companies, patient groups, vendors and other groups. Co-Chair Paul Pescatello noted the important roles Connecticut vendors have played in COVID-19 research, such as designing, implementing, and analyzing COVID trials and data, managing regulatory requirements, or conducting laboratory work.
Access to a recording of the event is available through the Chamber.
For more information or to contact Senator Blumenthal, visit his website here.
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