Let me take this opportunity to wish all Vermonters a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year. This has been an extremely difficult year for all of us. The COVID-19 virus and the economic catastrophe that followed has created one of the most stressful times in modern American history. The good news is there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Vermont seniors — please join me for a virtual town hall this Thursday, December 17th at 5:00 P.M.
While we can’t be together in person this year for our annual senior holiday dinners, this town hall is a way for us to gather virtually. It will be an opportunity for me to share an update from Congress and hear from you about issues of importance to you. You can share your thoughts on the current pandemic, issues that impact your daily life like the high cost of prescription drugs and the importance of social security, or even tell me about what you worry about for your children and grandchildren, like student debt, affordable child care, and climate change. If the issue matters to you, I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me.
I have heard from thousands of Vermonters since the start of this pandemic who have been unable to pay their rent, mortgage, electric bill, or put food on the table. In every corner of our country people are suffering and terrified. I went to the Senate floor on August 5th and called on my colleagues to listen to just a few of the many, many stories from my constituents and to act on their behalf, and on behalf of millions of Americans who desperately need help right now. And yet, the U.S. Senate majority allowed critical assistance to lapse, failed to pass legislation to provide the American people the help they need, and adjourned.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, commonly known as the CARES Act, is the largest emergency relief package in American history and included a substantial amount of direct aid to states. This flexible funding was included to help individual states respond to the unique needs related to this health and economic crisis. Vermont received $1.25 billion in this state-based funding, which is in addition to the tens of millions of dollars of federal aid provided to support critical services in Vermont like health care, housing assistance, emergency preparedness, and child nutrition. This is the single largest federal grant Vermont has ever received. Since the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, the Vermont legislature worked diligently to determine how best to allocate the federal aid to address the many needs of Vermonters.
In the past few days over 1,600 Vermonters have participated in our poll and shared their thoughts on what should be included in the next federal COVID-19 package. I greatly appreciate the thoughtful and heartfelt replies. The poll will be closing soon and I would like to hear from as many Vermonters as possible. How has this crisis impacted you and your family? What must the federal government now do to support our people in need?
We are four months into this pandemic and it is long past time for the U.S. Congress to get back to work. The CARES Act, the largest emergency relief package in American history, was signed into law on March 27th. While it did provide vital assistance to the American people, it didn’t go nearly far enough. Our fellow Vermonters are struggling and need our help now.