U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, says the COVID-19 relief package negotiated by House and Senate leaders was “missing a lot,” including more robust support for state and local governments.
In an interview done before congressional leaders announced a final deal, Pocan said he had wanted to see “more support for people in general.”
The final $900 billion deal includes checks of up to $600 for adults, a $300 boost in unemployment benefits for 11 weeks through mid-March, small business aid, and money for schools, hospitals and vaccine distribution.
It doesn’t include the liability protections that Republicans had pushed for or additional state and local aids that Dems had wanted.
“While this isn’t as robust as we need, it will at least provide some immediate assistance right now for people,” Pocan said Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Helping people during a hundred-year pandemic should be a no brainer for any elected official,” Pocan said.
He said another COVID-19 bill may be needed after President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
Pocan also said he would get a COVID-19 vaccine through the House of Representatives. He said Congress has many older members who are vulnerable to the virus.
“You can’t take the risk of not having a Congress in place,” Pocan said in defense of the plan to vaccinate House members.
Also on the program, one of Wisconsin’s top doctors said five COVID-19 vaccines could be in use sometime next year.
Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said other companies, including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have vaccines in the pipeline.
Raymond said those companies have “significant manufacturing capabilities” and approval of their vaccines would make COVID-19 immunization more widely available.
While a feared post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin did not happen, Raymond said it’s still “not safe to let down your guard” for the coming holidays.
He said COVID-19 spread is mostly occurring at small family gatherings and during leisure-time activities.
Raymond said COVID-19 is “decelerating” in Wisconsin, but it remains a serious pathogen and the number of cases is still much higher than in the spring and summer.
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