Three of Maine’s four congressional representatives offered reactions on Monday to Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion coronavirus relief package as lawmakers race to replace the jobless aid benefits that are set to expire this week.

Sen. Angus King, independent:

“On May 15th, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act to help lay out the next stage of support for the American people during the coronavirus pandemic. This should have been seen as a starting point from which to begin a dialogue – but instead, the proposal languished on the Senate Majority Leader’s desk, because he said publicly he did not feel any ‘urgency.’ Clearly, he’s not talking to the same constituents I am, and he damn sure isn’t experiencing the same challenges they are, because talking to Maine people, there’s plenty of urgency.

“State and local leaders are urgently trying to avoid layoffs for vital services; this proposal contains not a penny for our public sector nationwide. Schools are trying to figure out the best way to safely educate students during this pandemic; this proposal seriously underfunds their needs. Families are urgently looking for ways to make their rent or mortgage payment, or access affordable childcare, or get health coverage in order to stay protected during this generational public health threat; this proposal drastically shrinks the assistance they have been relying upon. But don’t worry – despite all these underfunded priorities, the bill’s architects did manage to find nearly $2 billion to build a new FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., no matter that it’s wholly irrelevant to the crisis at hand.

“We need to get something done, to help our people get through this crisis – but after months of ignoring this issue, today the Senate Majority Leader has released a plan that demonstrates his failure to understand the urgency Americans are feeling. This approach won’t work – we need a bipartisan negotiation to produce a bill that will truly address the challenges facing families across our country.”

Sen. Susan Collins, Republican:

“The Paycheck Protection Program has been a lifeline to more than five million small businesses and their employees nationwide. In the state of Maine, three-quarters of all small businesses have received these forgivable loans that have sustained the jobs of over 240,000 Mainers and brought more than $2.2 billion to our state.

Today, Senator Marco Rubio and I introduced a bill that would allow the hardest hit small businesses to receive a second PPP loan.  We are proposing that employers with 300 employees or fewer who have experienced a revenue losses of 50 percent or more compared to last year would be able to receive a second PPP loan to help them stay afloat and keep sending paychecks to their employees.

This legislation was one of a number of proposals introduced today to help strengthen our health care system, assist hard working families, and shore up our economy.  I support a number of these provisions, such as increasing funding for schools, COVID-19 testing, and health care providers.  I do not agree, however, with the lack of direct aid to communities or the lack of aid for the Postal Service. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work together to quickly reach an agreement to provide much-needed relief to the American people.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, Democrat:

“More than two months after the House passed the HEROES Act and days after unemployment benefits ran out for millions, the Senate has proposed a weak bill that does not offer nearly enough to address the economic pain and health crisis we face. On the day when we passed the tragic milestone of 150,000 dead Americans from this virus, Senate Republicans’ long-awaited plan is an insufficient Band-Aid to mitigate this worsening pandemic.”

Rep. Jared Golden, Democrat:

Golden did not respond Monday night to a request for reaction to the Senate plan.

 


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