BISMARCK, ND — Even in the lame duck session, the Republican-controlled Senate continues to ignore the most vital issue facing the United States: addressing the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. The Senate has refused to pass any meaningful COVID-19 relief legislation after the initial CARES Act passed in March. The Democratic-controlled House passed two bills that the Senate failed to vote on, one at $3.4 trillion and the other at $2.2 trillion. The second version was roughly halfway between the Senate’s initial $1.1 trillion HEALS Act, which the chamber never passed.
The House bill included an extension of $600 unemployment payments as well as funding for state, local, and tribal governments facing unprecedented budget restraints. The support is particularly relevant in North Dakota as the promised Prairie Dog funding is no longer expected. The slimmed down HEROES Act would have also supported education and childcare, which not only help our children live as normal a life as possible, but make it feasible to keep the economy running. It included improvements and funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to support small businesses and their employees.
The Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen said:
“North Dakota is the number one COVID-19 hotspot in the world. Workers are striking because they don’t have safe working conditions. Our hospitals have breached capacity, and our economy is teetering as the crisis deepens. Hoeven and Cramer won’t lose their taxpayer-funded paychecks. They won’t lose their government-funded health insurance, and they do not share in the economic threats the rest of us are facing as they refuse to address COVID-19. There’s often two sides to blame for gridlock in Washington. Not this time. If the death and suffering of North Dakotans is not enough for Hoeven and Cramer to do their jobs, what is?”