Washington Inaction Forces States to Step Up

States consider pandemic relief as America logs 13M COVID-19 cases
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 28, 2020 2:50 PM CST
Inaction in Washington Forces States to Take Action
In this May 12, 2020 file photo, a case of surgical gloves encased in plastic wrap waits for distribution as part of a shipment of personal protective equipment from China to help Connecticut fight against COVID-19 in New Britain Conn.   (AP Photo/Chris Ehrmann)

Faulting inaction in Washington, governors and state lawmakers are racing to get pandemic relief to small-business owners, the unemployed, renters and others whose livelihoods have been upended by the widening coronavirus outbreak, the AP reports. In some cases, elected officials are spending the last of a federal relief package passed in the spring as an end-of-year deadline approaches and the fall COVID-19 surge threatens their economies anew. Democrats have been the most vocal in criticizing President Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate for failing to act, but many Republican lawmakers are also sounding the alarm—which comes as COVID-19 cases top 13 million nationwide. Among the action in various states:

  • Earlier this week, the New Mexico Legislature passed a bipartisan relief bill that will deliver a one-time $1,200 check to all unemployed workers and give up to $50,000 to certain businesses.
  • In Colorado, a special session scheduled for Monday will consider roughly $300 million in relief to businesses, restaurants and bars, child-care providers, landlords, tenants, public schools and others.
  • In New Jersey and Washington state, Republicans who are a minority in both legislatures were the ones pushing for special sessions. They want to direct more money to struggling small-business owners.
  • Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, who control both houses of the Legislature, are considering whether to return in December to address effects of the latest coronavirus wave after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers put forward a $500 million COVID-19 relief bill earlier this week.
  • In Ohio, where Republicans control every branch of government, Gov. Mike DeWine and legislative leaders pushed a $420 million pandemic spending package through a special bipartisan panel late last month.
  • In New Jersey, the partisan divide over $4 billion in COVID-19 borrowing backed by the Democratic governor and Legislature prompted a court challenge by minority Republicans. The state's high court sided with Gov. Phil Murphy's administration, citing the unprecedented nature of the outbreak. Republicans have proposed a $300 million aid package to small businesses and nonprofits, but the legislation is stalled.
(More coronavirus stories.)

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