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ICYMI: Larson Fights for Immediate COVID Relief for Americans

February 10, 2021
Press Release
Larson: 465,000 Have Died, What Does it Take to Wake Up Republicans?

Hartford, CT – During today’s House Ways and Means Committee mark-up of the American Rescue Plan, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) pushed back on Republicans on the Committee who said more relief wasn’t needed and highlighted the pleas of his own constituents to act now.   

The American Rescue Plan would provide $1,400 in direct payments to Americans, extend unemployment benefits through August and include an extra $400 per week, and would cut childhood poverty in half by enhancing the Child Tax Credit.  

Committee Mark Up

Click here to view his remarks or see below for remarks as delivered.

 

Remarks as delivered:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to join those as well who have thanked the Committee for all of its diligence and hard work in putting this package together. I am struck initially however in listening to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that this is nothing more than fraud and abuse and that they haven’t been involved in the process. I am trying to think where people have been for the last year, and what they were focused on.

Mr. Chairman I want to thank you especially for the tireless work in putting this legislation together, as well as I want to make sure that we give President Biden the credit he richly deserves for having had the courage to understand the magnitude of this problem, and to weigh in on it as his top priority. And far from being rushed, there’s a sense of urgency. You heard Mike Thompson say it and Llyod as well. 465,000 Americans have died!

What does it take to wake up the people on the other side of the aisle? What has to be done in order for you to understand the magnitude of this? Do you not have the same kind of citizens that we do, that are suffering back in our district? Who not only fear for their lives but have lost their jobs and their livelihood?

You call what we’re trying to do here today fraud and [say] we haven’t targeted appropriately. We know you’re good at targeting because we’ve witnessed targeting in the past. When you passed your tax cut under the same process – and I hope people are listening in now all across the country to understand the difference between the two parties. When you targeted a population, you did so very skillfully, including when you passed your massive tax cut where there was no emergency whatsoever, no sense of urgency. 80% of that tax cut went to the nation’s wealthiest 1%.

By contrast, in dealing with a global pandemic, that here in America has taken over 465,000 lives of your fellow citizens, you sit there and still have not come forward with any plan whatsoever. But you want to limit the unemployment that people who have been out of work and suffering receive?! You’re not sure and were in denial for almost half the year as to whether or not this was even a serious disease! This is what I think confounds the American people.

I’m proud of this legislation and even prouder so that President Biden has indicated that this is a rescue plan for America. Chairman Neal has laid out what it does in terms of the benefits it will provide, and Chairman Powell I thought did a great job also from the Fed in recognizing that now is the time for us to go big. I’m glad that even with the torpedoes and the salvos and all the shots that are being fired at President Biden today, that he has said damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Let’s get the relief to the American people that they richly deserve. People in my district – and I’ll submit for the record countless letters that people have found themselves out of employment through no fault of their own. Caring for their children, wondering about how they’re going to educate them in college. Seniors who have only social security and wondering what they’re going to do to get by. And so this money that we’re extending and putting forward is necessary and needed and its urgent!

We get no plan from the other side, we just get platitudes and a lecture on what they think we’re doing wrong. How about you roll up your sleeves and do something on behalf of the American people and get them the relief that they need. And with that Mr. Chairman, I yield back my time. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Rep. Larson has received thousands of messages asking for more help. Here are some of their stories:

TaMalon, from East Hartford, is a single mother who lost her job.  

She says: “I've been out of work for over one year.  As a single mother I am finding it very difficult to make ends meet.  While Washington is playing politics with American lives hanging in the balance, we here are really dealing with the day to day struggle.”

Another constituent from East Hartford, Patience, who was laid off wrote in to say: 

“I was laid off which has made it difficult to pay rent and health insurance payments… I have to pack my 3 children in the every morning to do grocery deliveries just to make ends meet…. It’s my responsibility to take care of my children even in this hardship time. I can’t give up. So with that said, we start our day at 5am- 3pm. I help my son with school work during my delivery and feed and change diapers as well… [We] are forced to do devastating things such as go to food banks and take your kids out in 20 degree weather to do deliveries just to pay your bills.” 

Mark from Kensington, CT wrote of how he still has his job, he and his wife have faced a huge decrease in their take home pay which has resulted in them withdrawing from their 401k and paying for their daughter to start her first year of university. 

He wrote: 

“In talking to family and friends, there are many like me; never unemployed, but severely impacted financially as a result of COVID. So, of course I do not agree with Republicans that the $1,400 relief checks only go to the unemployed and/or the maximum qualifying income be reduced. As explained in my case my 2020 income is down 20% vs. 2019. Please remind your colleagues there are millions like my family; never unemployed, but severely negatively impacted financially.”

Collette from Hartland, CT is 73 years old and was laid off from her job. She writes: 

“I have only Social Security as income and it does not cover my rent, utilities and bills, soon I will not be able to pay rent and utilities. My nerves are a wreck due to financial worries and the isolation of being alone.  I need the stimulus payment and Unemployment benefits desperately.”

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