U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos said the continual back-and-forth on additional coronavirus stimulus aid is unfair to the American public.
"The American public needs this to get taken care of," she said. "We need to make sure the stimulus checks go out to families that need it. We need to make sure that our frontline workers can continue to work and get paid accordingly. That we get aid to state and local governments that desperately need it."
The Moline Democrat said the bill passed by the Democrat-controlled House last week reduced funding by one-third when compared to the original HEROES Act, but the White House and Democrats remain about $800 billion apart.
Talks stalled again after President Trump tweeted Tuesday that he was pulling his administration out of stimulus discussions until after the election. He instead urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to focus full time on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
"This pandemic is not taking a pause. It continues to kill people. It continues to make people sick. Our economy continues to slip," said Bustos, speaking Thursday outside the Peoria County Courthouse. "The time to get this done is now. It's not one day after the election."
Bustos said the president's offers to immediately sign into law some limited aid, like another $1,200 stimulus check to families, barely qualifies as a "drop in the bucket" to meet the current needs of the country's economic engine.
"The measly portion that the president is talking about will do very little to help get our economy back on track," she said, noting state and local governments, teachers, and frontline workers need financial help. She said the House package also boosts testing capacity needed to combat the virus.
Recently, the City of Peoria made multimillion-dollar cuts to balance a fiscal year 2020 budget devastated by COVID-19. It includes more cuts to a fire department already running at a bare-bones capacity.
Bustos also said Trump's recent tweets telling the American public not to let the novel coronavirus control their lives following his own battle with the illness sends the wrong message.
"Obviously, this is a very deadly virus, when we've had more than 7 million people who have gotten sick from it. We've now passed 210,000 Americans who have lost their lives," she said. "I don't think this is anything to take lightly."
Bustos said social distancing and face coverings remain key practices to leveling off the country's incidence of new COVID-19 cases.
Without widespread adherence, she said she fears there are more tough days ahead.
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