It’s long past time to provide sufficient pandemic relief to Americans

Americans are tired of the partisanship. We want problem solvers.

(Sam Thomas/iStock/ Getty Images Plus)

Having served in the U.S. Congress, as a Republican, I can’t help but scrutinize the Congress’s actions, or inactions. We are all tired of the partisanship, the blame, the intransigence of my party.

But we are in a health, economic and education crisis. We are stagnant, and the economy and families will suffer further unless the Congress works together and passes the American Rescue Plan for COVID-19 relief immediately.

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To their credit, Democrats and Republicans collaborated in March and April of 2020. They passed bipartisan relief legislation that addressed some immediate challenges during the early days of the pandemic, including stimulus checks for most Americans, protections for small businesses and additional benefits for unemployed workers

This flurry of bipartisan action reminded me that Republicans could still act in the public interest.

However, when the House passed another important relief bill last May, that would prevent the situation we’re in today, the Republican Senate would not.

Republicans snapped back to being the party of “just say no.” Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stopped the new House-passed relief package that would have been so important in ensuring a full economic recovery.

That was ten months ago.

Americans are tired of the partisanship, tired of the blame. We want problem solvers.

Meanwhile, Republican voters are leaving the party of “just say no” in droves.

Over 140,000 have left the party in just 25 states since the Trump-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

As vaccines become more widely available, and as the federal government’s response improves under the Biden administration, the American Rescue Plan would:

  • Accelerate the vaccination program in order to immediately contain the virus and its emerging variants. But we must move expeditiously.
  • Begin to reopen more schools, safely.
  • Support city and state essential services that more than 400 mayors from across the nation are requesting of our elected officials. Local workers have been on the front lines of fighting the pandemic and are needed to lead the long-term economic recovery, yet cities have been largely left without direct federal assistance.

More than 10 million Americans are still out of work, and over 2 million fewer women are in the labor force than just one year ago. This is a continuing crisis that Republicans must not deny any longer.

Moody’s, a Wall Street firm, has reported that passing the American Rescue Plan will help ensure a full recovery of jobs lost during the pandemic by late next year.

Nearly 70% of Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, support the American Rescue Plan.

Of course, like many, I’m concerned about the price tag, but I defer to the economic advisors who served the last four presidents, some of whom managed us through the Great Recession. They have all praised this plan, and have urged its speedy passage.

America cannot afford to keep waiting. We have been waiting since last May, 10 months, for an aggressive response to this crisis, and Republicans and Democrats need to act now.

Let’s pass the American Rescue Plan and get America back on track.

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