The U.S. Senate should cancel its recess and immediately return to Washington D.C. to pass a massive economic stimulus package featuring aid to state and local governments, according to Sen. Edward Markey.
While it joined the House in passing major aid packages earlier in the coronavirus crisis, the U.S. Senate has not acted on a $3 trillion aid bill approved by the U.S. House on May 15. That bill includes $875 billion in aid to states and municipalities that are facing unprecedented budget problems.
Infections initially hammered U.S. states run by Democrats but the virus has since exploded to the south and west. During a Sunday morning Zoom call, Markey said the soaring COVID-19 infection rates in states run by Republicans gives him hope that Democrats will get help from elected officials in red states.
"We are now seeing just incredible spikes in coronavirus and obviously an impact on their economies as state after state in the south and in the west are forced to do the things which we had to do in Massachusetts," Markey said. "I think that our alliance going forward to get this money is going to be with red state mayors, red state governors, red state senators."
Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee Jr. joined Markey on the call.
LaChapelle said Easthampton has frozen its hiring, and faces "radical reductions in services." She said, "We're heading towards a financial cliff. And we don't know what will help us. We don't know where the resources or support are coming from."
McGee said the Lynn has the third highest rate in the state for COVID-19 infections. The city faces close to a $3 million deficit, he said, complaining of a "lack of understanding" from Republican senators to impacts nationwide.
Lynn had been looking at a $30 million increase in education funding from the state under a new state funding reform law.
"That money is not coming obviously," he said, adding that he's now hoping for, but not sure about, level funding of Chapter 70 state education aid.
"The budget impacts are really slamming into us," he said. "We're trying to hold it together on a wing and a prayer."
Referencing the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, McGee said, "You all should be back working this week coming up and get this done."
Markey agreed, "The Senate has not voted and is not expected to vote on any bills related to the health and economic crisis facing us right now. And that is just plain wrong. The Senate should cancel this recess and immediately return to work and negotiate and pass a massive relief package."