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Durbin hopeful Congress will take up additional COVID-19 stimulus package

Durbin hopeful Congress will take up additional COVID-19 stimulus package

Congress will likely be under increased pressure in the coming weeks to approve a new COVID-19 stimulus package, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday.

With the expiration of the Paycheck Protection Program at the end of June and the increased unemployment benefits at the end of July, Durbin said he’s hopeful that policymakers will hash out the details of a new package.

“There isn’t a person alive that thinks we’re going to be out of the woods and the problems solved in that short order,” he said during a webinar with Crain’s Chicago Business. “I’m more hopeful that, when people realize that reality, they will come back and say, ‘We need to sit down and do another round.’”

He praised the $3 trillion stimulus plan passed last month by the House, which has yet to be taken up in the Senate. The bill should be a framework for a future package, Durbin said, specifically its allocation of funds to state and municipal governments experiencing significant budget challenges caused by the pandemic.

Durbin also said more funding for hospitals is planned, which he hopes prioritizes safety nets and other hospitals that see large shares of Medicaid patients.

“We’ve got to make sure that the federal funds that come from Washington… that the Medicaid hospitals get a helping hand,” he said.

Durbin said there are two important things to help communities recover from the pandemic. One is an infusion of money into the economy, while the other is instilling a sense of confidence. He mentioned a recent conversation with a downstate hospital that has seen patients cancel their elective surgeries over concerns of contracting the virus while at the facility.

“People need confidence that they can go to that restaurant, go to that shop, and even go to that hospital, and be safe in doing it,” he said. “And you just cannot announce that now everyone should be confident. You’ve got to make them feel we’re moving in the right direction in terms of protecting their health.”


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