Congressman Discusses Potential New Stimulus With Council

Congressman Adam B. Schiff

More federal funds addressing the economic impact of the coronavirus may be on the way, Congressman Adam Schiff said during the City Council’s virtual meeting Tuesday.
Schiff, D-Burbank, joined the meeting to announce the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, a potential follow-up to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the coronavirus stimulus package known as the CARES Act. The $3 trillion legislation would give about $500 billion to states and $375 billion to cities for their coronavirus responses, with the largest portion of the latter provision awarded to bigger cities like Burbank.
Councilmembers expressed support for the bill, which additionally provides more money for COVID-19 testing. However, Schiff also said that the federal government has been slow to increase its testing capacity.
“Much of the issue in terms of testing is that the administration got such a late start in prioritizing this. The early test that was rolled out by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] was a flawed test, and that cost us precious weeks to get a good test out, and even then I think the response has been very slow to ramp up the capacity,” he said.
Besides testing, Schiff noted that ventilators are also in high demand, though researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently helped design a cheaper version of the equipment. He added that during flu season, when hospitals and ventilator supplies are already strained, the resurgence of the coronavirus could make the situation worse.
Mayor Sharon Springer praised the HEROES Act’s dedication of $200 billion to hazard pay for essential workers. She said she hoped that the funds could be used as transitional pay for those currently receiving additional unemployment money.
“I think, judging from the emails that I get and that we all get, that those enhanced benefits have really helped relieve a lot of anxiety for our residents,” she said. “If there could be a transitional period as they go back to work and they leave that… I think that’s just a really good idea and important.”
Councilmember Jess Talamantes said she wonders if the passage of the new bill would be delayed, pointing out that many people wanted to see how the money from the CARES act would be spent before another bill was approved.
Schiff acknowledged that the bill would likely be subject to partisan debate as it goes to the Senate.
“I think we’ve reached the point where, the ability to rapidly pass legislation with almost unanimous votes or unanimous consent, that we’ve reached the end of those days. There is now a strong difference of opinion between the parties on whether people need additional help right now,” he said. “We’re going to have to see what package we can put together that we can get to the finish line.”
Talamantes responded, “I, for one, would like to advocate for monies coming to the state — counties and local jurisdictions as well. As you know, as you’ve heard, there’s a lot of money being expended on this COVID situation, so whatever help the federal government can give us… we would be grateful for that.”

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