CBS19, SARAH ROBINSON
Seventh District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is pushing for Congress to pass the vaccine section of the new COVID stimulus bill.
While Congress and the White House are working on another COVID stimulus bill, Republicans and Democrats are far apart on the price tag.
The Biden Administration’s bill is called the American Rescue Plan. If passed, it will expand unemployment benefits, mandatory paid sick leave, and has extensive vaccine funding.
The last relief bills took months to pass.
Spanberger is urging Congress to act fast on the new relief bill, and if that can’t happen, to at least pass the parts on which both sides agree.
“A suggestion that I have made to the White House is to expedite the vaccine-related portion of the larger relief,” she said.
The entire Democratic proposal is anticipated to have a price tag of around $1.9 trillion. It focuses on food security, unemployment, and schools and localities.
But for Spanberger, one key item stands out.
“It would be incredibly helpful and important for us to take a stand-alone vote on additional funding for vaccinations,” she said.
She says this funding, from the federal level, would get shots in arms faster.
“That is going to be key to us getting our economy back open and that is going to be key for us protecting lives,” said Spanberger.
She is also leading the Trust in Congress Act, which would end congressional stock self-dealing.
It might not sound like it’s COVID related, but in this case, it is.
“At the very beginning of the pandemic, there were members of Congress who were trading in stocks that could potentially be related to a pandemic,” Spanberger said.
These included numerous pharmaceutical companies and Clorox.
The requirement of the Trust in Congress Act is that any person elected to Congress would have to put their individual stock holdings into a blind trust.
This would ensure that representatives could not use their confidential knowledge to make trading decisions.
Spanberger is leading this act with Republican Congressman Chip Roy from Texas.
So far it has been well-received and has a lot of bipartisan support.
Spanberger voted on Wednesday to move forward on relief efforts and released this statement:
Moving forward, I’m confident that Congress and the administration can arrive at a final relief package that will save lives, put our economy on a strong path toward recovery, and prevent vulnerable communities from falling behind.
The need for additional relief is dire. Unemployment continues to plague so many across our communities, industries are struggling to recover, and families are determining how they will make ends meet from week to week. While the bipartisan package passed last December provided temporary relief, we will hit deadlines for many critical programs – including unemployment insurance and rental assistance – next month. I support moving forward quickly and efficiently to target relief toward the Central Virginia families, businesses, and communities that need it.
As we move forward with a comprehensive relief package, I believe that Congress should immediately pass a bipartisan, stand-alone bill focused on vaccine production and distribution, so that our health departments and states have the resources they need to rapidly deploy vaccines across our communities. There’s no time to delay in meeting this moment.