Vermont's trio in D.C.: 'We're compiling resources'
Members of Vermont’s Congressional delegation have been working hard to help Vermont businesses weather the economic and health crisis. Here are some of their comments from Thursday night’s COVID-19 telephone town hall organized by Congressman Peter Welch.
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch
“We, your Congressional delegation, have a fundamental responsibility to have the federal government be the economic backstop for you, and also for our state and our hospitals.”
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy
Sen. Leahy is vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and an architect of the federal stimulus bill.
“I think we all agree, none of us in our lives have ever seen anything like this.”
“Marcelle and I miss regular contact with our children and grandchildren, and with our Vermont friends and neighbors. When it comes to a crisis, (Tropical Storm) Irene showed that Vermonters, united, were strong. We’ll get through this somehow, together.”
“I’ll make sure Vermont has a seat at the table.”
“I know we’re going to need another emergency coronavirus relief package, and we’re working on it right now, so that any information or thoughts Vermonters have, please email me at my office and make sure we get it.”
“Peter, Bernie and I will continue to work together. We’ll compile resources and talk to each other and see what’s best.”
“The three of us know from the bottom of our hearts: Vermont will come through this. We’ll come through this together, and we’ll come through it strong.”
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders
“We are looking at a moment in history that none of us ever believed would be possible; this is an unprecedented moment. But we have a pandemic that will take many, many lives in this country. And we have an economic collapse. Ten million applications for unemployment in a two-week period. Many, many times greater than has ever been seen in the history of this country. There are estimates that some 30-40 million people will lose their jobs in this crisis. We went from 400 applications for unemployment to 17,000 in a week (in Vermont). That’s unbelievable.”
“I know there are many people in Vermont who feel a little bit guilty about applying for some of the befits that are in this program. Please do not. You have paid taxes you entire life, and this is exactly what taxes are for. You pay taxes for the education of your kids, for police and fire service, and right now this country is in a national emergency, and this is your tax dollars at work in a way they should be at work.”
In the federal stimulus bill “there will be a significant expansion of unemployment (benefits). What we have done: People who were not previously eligible for unemployment (such as part-time workers) are now eligible for unemployment. A lot more people are eligible. The unemployment program will be extended an additional 13 weeks. On top of the normal unemployment check that one would receive, for a four-month period, there will be an additional $600. It’s something we all fought very, very hard to get.”
“We are also making sure that every family in America will get the $1,200, and $500 for children. We recently made sure that people on Social Security don’t have to apply for that benefit, they’ll get it directly.”
“What the three of us are trying to do right now is make sure this very large $2 trillion bill is implemented as effectively and rapidly as possible.”