Record editorial: Congress must act on bipartisan coronavirus relief |

Record editorial: Congress must act on bipartisan coronavirus relief

It has been nine months since the coronavirus pandemic upended life in America. And it has been almost as long since Congress did much about it.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was passed in March. We are now in December. Millions of Americans — including many Summit County residents — remain out of work. Small businesses are still struggling to scrape by. A federal eviction moratorium that has kept roofs over the heads of families is set to expire at the end of the month.

After months of frustrating inaction, Congress must step up.

There is hope on the horizon. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, is pushing legislation that would provide new unemployment benefits, additional relief for small businesses and more aid for states and local governments, among other programs.

All told, the proposed legislation totals more than $900 billion, money that is vital to ensure Americans can make it through what will be a dark winter until widespread vaccination brings the pandemic to heel sometime next spring or summer.

Summit County residents should call on their congressional representatives to do everything in their power to ensure the legislation reaches the president’s desk.

Is the relief package as big as Democrats want? Not even close. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has passed legislation that calls for more than three times that amount. President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, has praised the bipartisan plans but maintains that more relief would still be needed.

At the same time, Republicans have been hesitant to get behind legislation of this size after approving the $2.2 trillion relief package in March.

Leave the debates about which side is right, and about whether further legislation will be needed before the pandemic is over, to the future. The reality of the situation is that Americans are struggling right now, and this option would offer them crucial aid at the end of one of the most difficult years in our country’s history.

Americans’ faith in Congress is — understandably — near an all-time low. This era of polarization has eroded our confidence that our leaders can put aside party dogma and reach across the aisle for the good of the country.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, Congress has a chance, at least momentarily, to show that it can still get things done. For the sake of the Americans who are in desperate need of help, let’s hope it takes it.

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