ND congressional delegation shares priorities on coronavirus funding
By Samone Blair
WASHINGTON – For North Dakotans facing eviction or unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic, a timeline on federal aid remains unclear.
“Another day has come and gone in this once in a century national battle for our country,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
“At the moment, the gap between our two parties in the negotiations is about priorities and about scale,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
Lawmakers are creating a new bill based on lessons learned from the Cares Act.
“We still don’t have a lot of information into what’s working and what’s not working. It’s all the more reason for us to focus our resources in this next phase on the things that are the highest priorities. Those are getting kids back to school safely, our healthcare system to make sure we combat the virus itself and wipe it out and of course getting people back to work,” Republican North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer said.
A key disagreement is over the amount of unemployment benefits to extend.
“We want to make sure that there’s assistance there and assistance done in a way that helps people but also does not create a disincentive to work,” Republican North Dakota Senator John Hoeven said.
Here in North Dakota, lawmakers are paying special attention to agriculture and energy.
“We want to make sure that we continue to build on the work that we’ve done in Cares. We combine that with additional funding to make sure that we’re getting assistance out to our farmers and ranchers. They’ve had a very hard time of it.
“Ag and energy are the biggest industries in North Dakota. We’re feeling it. Maybe we should have there conversations in committees and have experts come in and tell us what the best way to make sure people don’t get evicted without completely destroying the U.S. economy and constituents to get involved,” Republican North Dakota Representative Kelly Armstrong said.
“Congress and politicians need to hear from people. What motivates a politician more than anything of course is the power that comes from the fact that they’re elected,” Cramer explained.