Minnesota’s congressional delegation backs stimulus plan

People stand behind a podium.
Minnesota Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips holds up images of people in food bank lines, while standing with members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to praise the forthcoming passage of the bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill in a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol Monday. The bipartisan group took credit for leading the negotiations that led to a deal.
Cheriss May | Getty Images

Updated: 7:20 a.m.

The U.S. House and Senate passed a massive $900 billion stimulus package Monday night, and all the members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation supported it. 

The bill provides help to small businesses and contains a host of other provisions, including

  • $600 direct payments to most individuals, including children;

  • $13 billion in increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food insecure;

  • $25 billion in rental assistance and an extended eviction moratorium to help ensure people can stay in their homes for the duration of this crisis;

  • $284 billion for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for businesses, with dedicated funding for small and underserved businesses through Community Development Financial Institutions;

  • $300 per week in federal unemployment insurance for 11 weeks;

  • $15 billion for theaters, music venues and other important cultural institutions;

  • $82 billion for local schools, colleges and universities;

  • $10 billion for child care to assist working families

“The passage of this aid deal, though incomplete, provides a glimmer of hope in a time of great darkness for our nation,” said 4th District DFL U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum. “It is important that we provide this stability over the next few weeks until the Biden-Harris administration can put together a plan to work with Congress on additional federal assistance for state, local, and tribal governments that is so urgently needed.”  

The help for theaters and music venues was originally proposed by Minnesota DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. 

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“Independent venues were some of the first establishments to close down and will likely be some of the last to open. I refuse to sit by and let the music die, which is why I was proud to introduce the bipartisan Save our Stages Act,” Klobuchar said. “This funding will get small entertainment venues the help they need to make ends meet and serve our communities for generations to come.” 

Republican 6th District U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer blamed Democrats for delaying the aid and said the relief bill should have passed sooner. 

“Congress must end the all too routine pattern of brinkmanship and find methods to pay for emergency funding without saddling our children with our unfunded promises,” Emmer said. “By working together, we can overcome this crisis and correct the fiscal course of our nation.”

Republican 8th District U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber also blamed Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the time it took to pass the bill and took a swipe at DFL Gov. Tim Walz as well. 

“As more federal funds and vaccines are distributed across the state, I along with an overwhelming majority of my constituents will continue to pressure the governor to allow our small businesses and schools to safely reopen,” Stauber said. “It’s past time for the governor to level the playing field and allow our small businesses to play by the same rules as major corporations.”

Stauber and 3rd District Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips are members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. Phillips said the caucus and he in particular worked to move the deal through Congress. 

“After making it my personal mission for over four months, I’m pleased that emergency relief is finally on its way to American workers, families and small businesses,” Phillips said. “As our country emerges from the worst health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, I'm committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure we can meet the moment.”

DFL 5th District U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar praised the deal’s checks for ordinary Americans, as well as its support for schools and rural broadband. But she said the relief package does not go far enough, and also blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans for the delay.

“Six hundred dollars is not close to sufficient to cover eight months of lost wages, food or rent expenses. State and local governments in Minnesota are bleeding resources, while shouldering the burden of education, public safety, and public healthcare workers in the face of massive revenue shortfalls,” Omar said. ”Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues have stonewalled state and local aid, along with survival checks that meets the scale of the crisis. This is a collective failure in helping Americans in their time of need.”

Minnesota DFL U.S. Sen. Tina Smith said work remains in the new year.

"I’m very disappointed that this legislation does not provide desperately needed help to local, state and Tribal governments, which face deep budget challenges through no fault of their own because of the historic economic downturn caused by COVID,” she said. “Collectively, over 1 million Americans working in the public sector have lost their jobs due to budget challenges. This must be a priority when we return in the new year.”

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