NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

U.S. House passes Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan to combat COVID-19

The peo­ple of the Unit­ed States scored an impor­tant leg­isla­tive vic­to­ry last night when the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives vot­ed to trans­mit the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion’s Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan to the Unit­ed States Sen­ate, set­ting up a debate in the even­ly-divid­ed cham­ber about the need for invest­ment to help com­mu­ni­ties recov­er from the dev­as­tat­ing impacts of COVID-19.

The vote on final pas­sage was two hun­dred and nine­teen to two hun­dred and twelve. All Repub­li­cans vot­ed nay, and all but two Democ­rats vot­ed aye.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Aye: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, Mar­i­lyn Strick­land (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio (OR)

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA), Cliff Bentz (OR), Russ Fulcher and Mike Simp­son (ID), Matt Rosendale (MT), Don Young (AK); Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kurt Schrad­er (OR)

Ore­gon’s Kurt Schrad­er was one of just two Demo­c­ra­t­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tives to vote no, the oth­er being Maine’s Jared Gold­en. Both used a set of Repub­li­can talk­ing points in a lame attempt to explain their opposition.

“The time for deci­sive action is long over­due,” said Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi.

“Pres­i­dent Biden’s Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan is that deci­sive action. Tonight, Con­gress is tak­ing action to crush the virus with a nation­al vac­ci­na­tion pro­gram, robust test­ing, trac­ing and treat­ment, more PPE and com­bat­ing health dis­par­i­ties affect­ing com­mu­ni­ties of col­or disproportionately.”

“Econ­o­mists over­whelm­ing­ly sup­port this tar­get­ed action,” the Speak­er not­ed. “Ear­li­er this month, Fed­er­al Reserve Chair­man Jerome Pow­ell [a Trump appointee] report­ed that the real unem­ploy­ment rate is ten per­cent, match­ing the depths of the worst point of the Great Reces­sion. As he said, ‘We are still very far from a strong labor mar­ket whose ben­e­fits are broad­ly shared.’”

Pres­i­dent Joe Biden appeared at the White House to hail the bil­l’s pas­sage.

“For a few weeks now, an over­whelm­ing per­cent­age of the Amer­i­can pub­lic has made it clear that they sup­port my Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan,” said Biden. “And the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives took the first step toward mak­ing it a reality.”

“And I want to thank — and I called her just a few moments ago — Nan­cy Pelosi for her extra­or­di­nary — Speak­er Pelosi — for her extra­or­di­nary lead­er­ship and all those who sup­port­ed our plan. And with their vote, we are one step clos­er to vac­ci­nat­ing the nation. We are one step clos­er to putting $1,400 in the pock­ets of Amer­i­cans.  We are one step clos­er to extend­ing unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who are short­ly going to lose them.”

“We’re one step clos­er to help­ing mil­lions of Amer­i­cans feed their fam­i­lies and keep a roof over their head. We’re one step clos­er to get­ting our kids safe­ly back in school.  And we’re one step clos­er to get­ting state and local gov­ern­ments the mon­ey they need to pre­vent mas­sive lay­offs for essen­tial workers.”

“Now the bill moves to the Unit­ed States Sen­ate, where I hope it will receive quick action. I have — we have — no time to waste,” the Pres­i­dent added.

“If we act now — deci­sive­ly, quick­ly, and bold­ly — we can final­ly get ahead of this virus.  We can final­ly get our econ­o­my mov­ing again. The peo­ple of this coun­try have suf­fered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suf­fer­ing. The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan does just that: It relieves the suffering.”

“And it’s time to act.”

DNC Chair Jaime Har­ri­son con­grat­u­lat­ed the House for tak­ing action.

“While Repub­li­cans in Con­gress try to play polit­i­cal games with people’s lives, Democ­rats have passed Pres­i­dent Biden’s Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan to pro­vide peo­ple with the imme­di­ate relief they need to weath­er this cri­sis — includ­ing direct pay­ments, expand­ed and extend­ed unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits, and crit­i­cal fund­ing to help speed up vac­cine dis­tri­b­u­tion and reopen schools safely.”

“That’s what lead­er­ship looks like.”

“This crit­i­cal leg­is­la­tion has sup­port from Amer­i­cans across the coun­try and the polit­i­cal spec­trum, and yet Repub­li­cans in Con­gress are try­ing to stand in the way. Make no mis­take: Repub­li­cans who vote against this pack­age are vot­ing against putting checks in the hands of hard­work­ing peo­ple who have bills to pay, busi­ness­es to run, and kids to feed. They need help. They need lead­er­ship. But only one par­ty has shown the courage and com­pas­sion to pro­vide it.”

The DNC has released a video crit­i­ciz­ing Repub­li­cans for vot­ing against the plan.

Wash­ing­ton State’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives all released state­ments explain­ing why they vot­ed to pass the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan.

“My dis­trict, where the first known cas­es and deaths of COVID-19 were iden­ti­fied, has been com­bat­ing this virus for over a year now. Our com­mu­ni­ties need more sup­port and this leg­is­la­tion shows that relief is Con­gress’ top pri­or­i­ty,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene, D‑Washington, who rep­re­sents NPI’s home con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, the 1st. (NPI is based in Red­mond.) “With a pan­dem­ic still rag­ing and a frag­ile econ­o­my, this bill meets the moment of this cri­sis to sup­port our work­ers, fam­i­lies, small busi­ness­es, and pub­lic health response.”

“Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are hurt­ing and need relief now,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rick Larsen (D‑WA-02). “In my con­ver­sa­tions with con­stituents and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, I hear about trag­ic loss, eco­nom­ic anx­i­ety and pro­found chal­lenges. This com­pre­hen­sive aid pack­age gets more vac­cines in arms, gives Wash­ing­to­ni­ans a long over­due raise, helps fam­i­lies put food on the table, enables work­ing fam­i­lies to return to work, helps school dis­tricts safe­ly reopen, and ensures com­mu­ni­ties can con­tin­ue to pay essen­tial work­ers and main­tain essen­tial services.”

“Over the last year, I’ve spo­ken with folks across our region who have lost their jobs, lost their small busi­ness­es, and lost loved ones due to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. I’ve heard a lot of pain. Peo­ple in our region need help. That’s why I’ve been out­spo­ken in push­ing Con­gress to take action so folks get the help they need to get through this,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Derek Kilmer (D‑WA-06).

“Fam­i­lies through­out Wash­ing­ton and across our coun­try have spent months des­per­ate­ly try­ing to hang on dur­ing an unprece­dent­ed pub­lic health and eco­nom­ic cri­sis that has left mil­lions strug­gling to put food on the table, keep the heat on, pay the rent, and with­stand this dev­as­ta­tion,” empha­sized Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal (D‑WA-07), the Chair of the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Caucus.

“I am proud to have fought to ensure that this relief pack­age puts mon­ey direct­ly in people’s pock­ets by defeat­ing restric­tive efforts to low­er sur­vival check income thresh­olds and suc­cess­ful­ly includ­ing a $15 min­i­mum wage,” Jaya­pal added.

“By pass­ing aid that expands unem­ploy­ment assis­tance, increas­es the child tax cred­it, crush­es the virus by invest­ing in vac­cine dis­tri­b­u­tion, sup­ports child­care facil­i­ties and the fam­i­lies who depend on them, funds nutri­tion and rental assis­tance, helps small busi­ness­es, and pro­vides robust state and local fund­ing, we are send­ing a clear mes­sage to Amer­i­cans every­where that we see you, we hear you, and we are going to fight for you so our coun­try gets through this together.”

“It has been almost a year to the day when our state had the first COVID cas­es and first death,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er (D‑WA-08), the first and only pedi­a­tri­cian serv­ing in Con­gress. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple need help. And they need­ed it a long time ago. We need bold action to get our econ­o­my reopened, chil­dren back into class­rooms, and every Amer­i­can vac­ci­nat­ed. This bill meets the moment and charts our path out of the pandemic.”

“Last week, the Unit­ed States reached the solemn mile­stone of 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19,” observed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Smith (D‑WA-09). “The dire health impact of the pan­dem­ic has been fol­lowed by enor­mous ongo­ing eco­nom­ic con­se­quences for indi­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, and businesses.”

“Amidst this suf­fer­ing, I believe there is final­ly rea­son for opti­mism with vac­cine dis­tri­b­u­tion expand­ing and dis­ease preva­lence falling. The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan passed in the House is enor­mous­ly impor­tant to con­tin­ue this progress and is cru­cial to help com­bat the virus, get our chil­dren back in the class­room safe­ly, ramp up equi­table vac­cine dis­tri­b­u­tion, extend and expand unem­ploy­ment insur­ance, and pro­vide imme­di­ate eco­nom­ic relief for families.”

“I proud­ly vot­ed for the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan, which includes the vital injec­tion of res­cue aid for state, local, and trib­al gov­ern­ments that I fought for, because Amer­i­can fam­i­lies need our help,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­i­lyn Strick­land (D‑WA-10). “This is a res­cue oper­a­tion — and this cru­cial relief will keep our first respon­ders, front­line health work­ers, and oth­ers safe­ly on the job, ensure vital ser­vices are not cut off, and keep com­mu­ni­ties across the South Sound running.”

“Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies’ lives and liveli­hoods have been dev­as­tat­ed by the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and eco­nom­ic cri­sis,” Strick­land added.

“The South Sound can­not afford fur­ther delay, and Pres­i­dent Biden’s bold, strate­gic relief pack­age deliv­ers the long-over­due resources need­ed to meet the needs of Wash­ing­ton com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies across the coun­try. With tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans infect­ed, more than half a mil­lion lives lost, mil­lions more unem­ployed and food and hous­ing inse­cure, the time for action is now.”

NPI strong­ly sup­ports pas­sage of the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan.

It is imper­a­tive that we learn from the Oba­ma years and not repeat the mis­take of under-invest­ing to address the incred­i­ble dam­age that the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic has caused to our fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. This is a time for bold invest­ment. An even larg­er pack­age would have been appro­pri­ate, but this is a suit­able ini­tial set of appro­pri­a­tions for Con­gress to send to Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s desk.

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