Sen. Heinrich says Congress should not adjourn until COVID-relief package is passed

By:  Nathan O'Neal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The hopes of Congress passing another COVID-relief package this week remain dashed for now.

Congressional leadership remains at odds over what should be included in the bill while members of New Mexico's delegation remains hopeful for a deal.

Rep. Deb Haaland is calling on Congressional leadership to include restaurants in any possible relief package. She also told KOB 4 that she'd like to see direct payments to the American people. 

"I think it's imperative that folks have some money in their pockets. They have to pay rent, they need to pay the utilities, their kids need a new pair of shoes. I mean, it's already been almost a year," said Rep. Haaland. 

"We can't afford not to put this funding forward. communities across the country and especially tribes are, are devastated not only with the healthcare issue, but with the lack of economic opportunities, because they've had to shut down their businesses on tribal lands," said Rep. Haaland. 

Senator Martin Heinrich said Congress should not adjourn for the year until something is passed. 

"You really have to target funds --  first to the people who are really in trouble. If we can add direct payment checks on top of that I'm very supportive of doing that. But I don't want to see it come at the cost of things like rental assistance or unemployment, that right now are keeping people in their homes and from being out on the street," said Sen. Heinrich. 

Heinrich also says the bi-partisan relief package that's being negotiated right now includes vital funding for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. 

"Right now, we unfortunately don't have support from Majority Leader McConnell. But there are, in my view, enough members that we could put something on the floor next week and get it passed," said Heinrich.  

Congressman Ben Ray Lujan issued the following statement: 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit New Mexico hard, and families, workers, and small businesses need immediate relief to weather this crisis. While there has been bipartisan support for an additional COVID-19 package, Mitch McConnell continues to block relief for the American people. I remain hopeful that both sides can come together to meet this moment, fund COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, support families and businesses, and provide relief for local, state, and Tribal governments on the front lines of this pandemic.”