Weekly Democratic Address
October 2, 2020
Hello, I’m Congressman Derek Kilmer, and I proudly represent Washington State’s sixth congressional district and serve as the Chairman of the New Democrat Coalition. I’d like to start by wishing the President, the First Lady and all those who are suffering from COVID-19 a full and speedy recovery.
The COVID-19 pandemic has become the biggest public health crisis of our lifetime and has created the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Responding to a challenge of this magnitude requires bold action. That’s why, back in May, nearly five months ago, the House passed the Heroes Act, a comprehensive coronavirus relief package to deliver help to the frontline. But since that time, the Republican-led Senate has simply dragged its feet, and they’ve failed to pass any bill, let alone one that’s adequate.
So, this week, the House took action yet again, passing an updated version of the Heroes Act, a proposed compromise, but one that will still deliver support to our frontline workers, provide additional direct assistance to families and small businesses, support critical operations for state, local and tribal governments and invest in our nation’s testing capacity so we can crush this virus. House Democrats moved forward with this bill because we want to do all we can to make sure the American people get all the help they need.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen a different approach from Senate Republicans and President Trump. In their case, “let’s pause,” has been the mantra. But the people I represent are facing challenges that aren’t pausing. They need help right now.
When my office has gotten outreach from people who have lost their job or lost their business due to this pandemic, I’ve tried to reach out to those folks personally. I’ve heard a lot of pain.
Just recently, I spoke to a mom from Port Angeles, my hometown, who said she’d worked her entire life until this March when she lost her job. She told me she used to donate to her local food bank, and this month, for the first time, she got help from a local food bank. She said she was struggling to feed her family. Her bills aren’t pausing. And this updated version of the Heroes Act provides direct support for families to pay their bills and put food on the table.
I spoke to a dad in Bremerton who said he was pounding the pavement looking for work but, in the meantime, was really afraid that his family could lose its home because he simply hasn’t been able to make payments. His mortgage payments aren’t pausing. The Heroes Act we passed this week provides rental and mortgage assistance.
I spoke to a small business owner from Tacoma who broke down as he discussed taking 30 years to build his business, and then having to shut it down. He had planned to pass that family business down to his kids. Main Street employers who are hurting cannot wait for the help they need to keep folks on the payroll. This bill provides that help to small businesses and non-profits and provides a lifeline to local restaurants that are struggling to weather this storm.
I spoke to schoolteachers who have seen their lives turned upside-down. More resources are needed so that teachers can continue to teach and students, including my two kids, can continue to learn safely. This bill provides those resources to support our educators and our public schools.
I spoke to a Mayor who is trying to figure out how to pay our heroes, like the first responders and public health workers who keep us safe. This bill provides critical support to ensure they don’t get laid off at a time when they’re needed the most.
Folks, these challenges aren’t just happening in my neck of the woods. They’re happening in communities all around this country. And economists across the political spectrum agree that, in the absence of further federal action, America faces the real risk of a prolonged recession or even a full-scale depression.
I think what sometimes gets lost in these marble buildings in D.C. is that this is about delivering help For the People. Most people agree with the notion that families shouldn’t have to worry about paying their bills or putting food on the table as a consequence of circumstances beyond their control. That’s why we’ve passed a bill to ensure that families and workers aren’t getting left behind.
Folks agree that health care workers shouldn’t have to worry about getting the personal protective equipment they need to be safe and to care for patients. They agree that sick people should be able to get a test and should have affordable care. That’s why we’ve passed a bill to provide the resources that health care workers and patients need.
The New Democrat Coalition has been pushing for action and House Democrats are working in good faith to reach a deal that meets the needs of folks in communities across the country. The House vote this week furthers our efforts toward an agreement.
Now, more than ever, we need our Republican colleagues and President Trump to continue negotiating so we can finally secure a relief package that is desperately needed by our fellow Americans.
The American people need action. They need a deal because, quite frankly, they shouldn’t have to wait any longer.