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Warner, Kaine say relief package isn’t perfect, but promises urgent aid

Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 8:19 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - With millions of Americans about to lose unemployment benefits after Christmas, and more facing evictions early in the New Year, US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) said lawmakers need to take action.

“If Congress doesn’t act,” Warner told reporters Thursday afternoon, “Congress would become the ultimate Grinch in terms of the holiday season.”

Warner is a leader of the so-called “gang of eight,” a bipartisan group of senators who developed the framework for an agreement.

Both he and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said they’re happy a deal is within reach before lawmakers take their Christmas recess.

“The good news is, I wasn’t the only legislator objecting to a recess until we got action done,” Kaine said in a teleconference Thursday morning. “In fact, legislators of both parties, both houses were singing out of the same songbook.”

The $908 billion plan now includes expanded unemployment benefits, rental assistance, support for small businesses and direct payments of several hundred dollars to individuals.

“We’re going to stay right here, right here, until we are finished,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor of the Senate Thursday. " Even if that means working through the weekend, which is highly likely.”

Warner noted the economic relief package is the second largest piece of legislation in the nation’s history.

“This is a healthy piece of work. It’s not perfect, but it shows, I think, a return to the sensible center,” Warner said. “I think it’s a return of people who want to put country ahead of party. And I think it is a great holiday gift. We’ve just got to get it across the finish line.”

Warner said we could hear more from the “gang of eight” and other like-minded lawmakers.

He said there are many senators of both parties who are tired of inaction. And he said we’re likely to see the same approach on many more issues.

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