Foster, Newman decry Senate inaction on a new COVID-19 relief bill

Will County area Democrats are calling on U.S. Senate Republicans to help pass a new COVID-19 relief bill.

Even though the House of Representatives, which Democrats control, passed a $2.2 trillion updated piece of legislation which included more aid for state and local governments, support for small businesses and money for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, the Republican-controlled Senate has yet to pass its own bill.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville and other House Democrats criticized Republicans for focusing more on approving Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, than on passing more relief during the pandemic.

"Senate Republicans are more interested in jamming through their Supreme Court nominee so they can overturn the (Affordable Care Act) than they are about planning and helping people who are struggling to make ends meet," Foster said during a virtual news conference on Wednesday.

When asked why Democrats would not settle for Republican proposals that include less money but still offer some relief, Foster said even though the two sides appear close on a solution, the details "matter a lot."

"People just have to realize that when we have a big fight in Washington, we’re not fighting over nothing," Foster said.

The congressman pointed to the spending formula in a Republican proposal which, he argued, benefited smaller states and disproportionately hurt larger states like Illinois. Foster said these kinds of formulas, which don't afford Illinois adequate federal assistance, have caused the state's fiscal problems.

Marie Newman, the Democratic nominee running to represent the 3rd Congressional District in Illinois, said she's heard from residents of her district who are on the verge of losing their homes or businesses.

"They understand that this is a huge problem," she said. "Inaction and no solution is both costly and deadly."

Newman said she's receiving frequent briefings from the House Democratic Caucus on relief bill talks. She said Republicans have only resorted to "half-measures" in their proposals, which she argued are insufficient to help local and school governments, small businesses and residents on unemployment struggling during the pandemic.

Newman also said she didn't understand the Republicans' political strategy, which she described as "self-sabotage," just weeks before the election.

"They nave no logical excuse here," she said.

Newman defeated U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary this year.