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Covid Relief

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 17, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. SLOTKIN. Mr. Speaker, today, on the eve of a hopeful vote on the next COVID relief bill that our Problem Solvers Caucus has so ably led the charge on, I rise to tell the stories of three individuals from my district. Their stories represent just a fraction of the messages I have been receiving on COVID relief.

But today, on the floor of the people's House, I rise because they deserve to be heard. Their stories are the reason we refuse to go home for Christmas without an agreement. They are why we continue to fight until a deal is reached.

First, I would like to talk about Bob, who wrote to me from Brighton, Michigan. Bob is a pillar of his community. After serving his Nation in the Army National Guard for 6 years, he has been giving back to his fellow veterans for over 21 years as a district post commander for The American Legion.

But for the first time in 16 years, Bob recently found himself laid off from his job in construction due to the coronavirus. To cover his expenses, like 171,000 others in Michigan, he had to file a first-time claim for unemployment insurance. Despite being eligible for the State's maximum benefit, he cannot make ends meet.

Between medications and health insurance, mortgage and car payments, utilities and food, he is having to turn to his savings, and he knows that won't last long.

Bob is responsible, a straight shooter, and he has served our country. He is the kind of Michigander who anyone would want in their corner, but right now, he is asking for help, not sometime in the future, not after the inauguration of a new President.

He is asking us to pass a bill that helps the millions of Americans who are in need. It is our job, and it is our duty to rise to that call.

I am also pushing for relief for Richard, who is from my hometown of Holly, Michigan. Richard chairs our Downtown Development Authority Board, which supports the businesses on Main Street, many of which have been devastated by the pandemic.

Richard has had a front row seat to how critical the situation is, so he wrote me, asking what the Federal Government is going to do to save small businesses from bankruptcy.

I had the chance to talk to Richard over the phone this week, and we agreed that small businesses need loans and clarity on whether those loans will be forgiven or if they can deduct that loan in tax season. This is what we will hopefully be voting on in the next 48 hours in the update to the PPP program.

Richard and I do not see eye to eye on every issue, but when it comes to our local businesses, we are residents of Holly first. We agree that small businesses need a bridge to get them through the next year when the vaccine will be widely available. After all, it is business owners like Richard who have shown the grit and resilience needed to adapt to these challenging times. It is only right that we have their backs when they need it most.

Mr. Speaker, lastly, I am pushing for this bill because of Karli. She is a server at Mackle's in Hartland, Michigan--where, by the way, they have the best buffalo chicken wing tenders ever--and the best part of the job for her is creating memorable experiences for guests who come to share a meal. But these days, with the kitchen converted fully to takeout, she is working half as many shifts and taking home half the pay she used to.

COVID blindsided her and the rest of the service industry, and now she is worried about the bills that are piling up. In between shifts and stretching every paycheck, she is going to school to become a nurse, joining the absolute front line of America's latest war. Simply put, she can't imagine going into the new year with no extra help.

Mr. Speaker, she ends her letter with these words: ``Please help take care of us so we can get back to taking care of you as our guests.''

Take care of us so we can take care of you.

Mr. Speaker, think about that for a moment. In the middle of a global pandemic, one that has claimed 300,000 American lives and upended our way of life, that is the mantra of folks on the ground, folks who just want to take care of their neighbors and their communities. They are not asking for the government to solve every problem, but they expect their government to act.

For residents in my district, an agreement is more than just numbers on a page. It is a ray of hope that maybe they will spend Christmas a little less worried. It is a new year that they can truly look forward to. It is a sign that, when their backs are up against the wall and they need help, Congress can get in a room and agree on a deal.

Mr. Speaker, we are so close to that finish line, and so I ask all my colleagues to join me in heeding the pleas of Bob and Richard and Karli. Let's do the right thing. Let's pass a bill so we can help those who need it the most.