U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says Congress needs to do more to help state and local governments weather the economic turmoil wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to reporters in East Peoria on Thursday, Durbin said he supported House legislation that would provide aid to state and local governments as part of the next round of stimulus. That bill hasn’t gained the Republican support to gain momentum in the GOP-controlled upper chamber.
Durbin, a Democrat, said the net result of not helping governments stem their revenue losses is more job losses.
“We’re talking about police. We’re talking about health care professionals. We’re talking about teachers. You know, that is not going to help us move forward. We need to give these state and local governments a bigger helping hand,” he said.
Durbin said he thinks it’s a “long shot” that Congress will actually make much progress on additional COVID-19 relief when it reconvenes next week, but he hopes something gets accomplished when the Republican-controlled Senate meets for three weeks, and the Democrat-controlled House convenes for two weeks–whether that’s an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, or more aid for struggling businesses and governments.
“If we made an announcement that we’re going to stay an extra week to get one of those things done, it’s worth it,” Durbin said. “For goodness’ sake, all the Senate ever does is pass judicial nominees from Senator McConnell. We ought to get down to business of addressing the issues that will affect the economy right here in central Illinois.”
Backs Duckworth for VP
Durbin, the state’s senior senator, is now formally backing his colleague, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, also a Democrat, to be the Democratic vice presidential candidate this fall.
Durbin urged the Democratic Party of Illinois to make the endorsement Wednesday, telling reporters she’s the right pick.
“I’m honored to have her as my colleague. I think she’s an exceptional American. And I think she would be a great running mate for Joe Biden,” said Durbin, noting he first met Duckworth a few months after her helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. He said he was impressed with her from the start, and later supported her bids for the U.S. House and Senate when she decided to enter politics.
Biden said he will select a woman to be his running mate, but has yet to announce his choice. The Democratic National Convention is Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee.