March 06, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) voted for the American Rescue Plan¸ a desperately-needed COVID-19 relief bill that will help bring this deadly pandemic under control and provide critical support to families across the country who are currently struggling to make ends meet. In his full statement below, Senator King emphasizes the cost of inaction, highlights his work to strengthen the bill, and underscores the immense bipartisan support for this legislation among the American public.
“Over the last year, America has been devastated by COVID-19 – costing a half a million lives, and testing our nation on every front imaginable,” said Senator King. “Beyond the clear human cost, this pandemic has stressed our personal finances, shuttered our shops, strained our local economies and governments, and relentlessly stretched our medical professionals and first responders to and beyond their breaking points.
“In the face of this crisis, the previous Senate leadership did not do enough – despite bipartisan support for action. The bill the Senate passed today, and the vote I proudly cast in favor, confronts the damage done across the board. This legislation will help us save lives and repair the economic damage inflicted by this pandemic. This legislation is expensive – but as we’ve seen over the last year, the cost of inaction is even higher.
“The COVID relief bill includes $160 billion in essential funding to address the ongoing public health emergency, ensuring we have the resources needed to control this virus and vaccinate the American people. These investments in our healthcare system are vital – but they are only one piece of the work that must be done to repair the damage caused by this pandemic. You may have heard the charge that ‘only 9% of this bill relates to COVID, and the rest is some kind of political wish list.’ This is flat wrong and deliberately misleading. This legislation will also address the secondary effects of COVID-19 – including delivering desperately-needed financial support to working families through targeted direct payments, extending unemployment benefits, and providing additional resources to help school districts safely reopen. The bill also addresses longstanding inequalities exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic by adjusting Child Tax Credit to help lift 10,000 Maine children out of poverty and investing key resources into broadband expansion, which is essential to remote learning, telehealth for seniors, and working from home – all crucial in our fight against the impacts of the pandemic.
“Over the last several weeks, I have worked hard with my colleagues and the White House to strengthen and streamline this bill, improving its focus on need and removing many of the unrelated expenses that were a weakness of the House bill that passed last week. The result is a well-thought-out, effective piece of legislation that has broad, bipartisan support from the American public – one recent poll shows that 77% of the American public supports this plan, including 6 in 10 Republicans.
“At the end of the day, I worked hard on this bill and voted for it because Maine people need help. This bill will meet their need, and set us on the path to putting this dark chapter of American history behind us once and for all.”