Engel on House Passage of Senate Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Engel on House Passage of Senate Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Congressman Eliot Engel issued the following statement on House passage of the Senate’s coronavirus stimulus package today:

“These are extremely trying times for our country. We are caught in the middle of an unprecedented moment of global unrest, driven by a pandemic that has already caused great personal and economic hardship for millions of people around the world. For those of us tasked with responding to this crisis, time is of the essence. Without immediate, drastic assistance, people in Westchester, the Bronx and beyond who are already hurting will be left in ruin, and our health care system will collapse. At this critical moment, perfect cannot be the enemy of good. 

“The Senate’s phase 3 coronavirus package provides billions of dollars of economic relief to American families in the form of direct payments. It also provides billions of dollars in support to hospitals, nursing homes, health clinics, small businesses, and people receiving unemployment. That’s funding for medical equipment, personnel and research; funding to keep local businesses afloat; funding to help people pay their mortgages and put food on their tables, all of which is desperately needed right now in New York. In addition, like the House’s phase 3 proposal, the Senate’s bill includes the following provisions I authored to strengthen our health care system: 

  • It protects the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program, which is a lifeline for nearly 200 New York safety-net hospital, by delaying disastrous cuts to the program;
  • It increases reporting requirements on the pharmaceutical supply chain and gives federal officials new tools to help prevent shortages of drugs important to addressing this public health emergency;
  • Lastly, it includes my provisions to reauthorize funding for the National Quality Forum, which helps advance high-quality patient care.

“All of this amounts to better health outcomes for Americans and much needed relief for struggling families. Is the Senate bill perfect? No. Would I have preferred our House bill? Yes. But I also understand the difficulty Senator Schumer—who did outstanding work negotiating stricter oversight of how these funds are dispersed—faced in negotiating with Senate Republicans. Without Democratic input, the GOP would have passed a $2 trillion bill to benefit big corporations at the expense of working families, including a $500 billion slush fund run by the President’s cronies under his ‘oversight.’ As outrageous as that sounds, the only reason that proposal was stopped, not once but twice, was because of the dedication of Senate Democrats to protect middle and working-class Americans.

“This bill provides serious help, but the reality is we still need to do more, especially for state and local governments now feeling the budget crunch. Governor Cuomo has done tremendous work filling in the blanks left by the inadequate response from the Trump Administration. As I mentioned to Speaker Pelosi on a conference call just yesterday, moving forward we need to make sure our state, city, and local governments are made whole again, preferably in a 4th response package. And even with this huge stimulus, we must remain cognizant of the struggles people are facing every day in dealing with COVID-19. Economic support is helpful, but the money won’t go as far unless we get a handle on this public health crisis. This pandemic is far from over and we must remain nimble when it comes to responding to the needs of the American people.”