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Sen. Gillibrand, Rep. Katko Express Frustration Over Coronavirus Relief Stalemate


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says she continues to fight for priorities that help families in the next coronavirus relief bill that’s hung up in Congress.  She wants to expand food assistance benefits, stabilize child care providers, and extend the nationwide moratorium on evictions, among other measures. 

Gillibrand says with the pandemic now touching every state and community, she says the struggles of families and local economies can’t be ignored.

"Every member of Congress should be doing whatever they can to help keep people from going homeless, from going hungry, or falling into poverty.  They should be fighting to get their states the resources they so clearly need."

Gillibrand says nationwide, 1 in 5 parents won’t have enough food for their children, and 1 in 3 households missed rent or mortgage payments in July.  She says Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is out of touch with reality, and congress shouldn’t go on recess until there’s a solution that addresses the crises facing families and local governments.  Gillibrand says she’s traveled the state, including a stop in Syracuse, and has heard firsthand how urgently relief is needed.

"There's not a county executive or mayor who isn't fearful about the future.  And as I've talked to families who are out of work, they're worried about schools.  If schools can't reopen safely, they're going to be homeschooling their kids. They want to get back to work; they might not be able to get back to work if they're kids' school doesn't reopen."

Gillibrand blames the White House for not putting the infrastructure in place to allow for more schools to reopen safely, including rapid test results, contact tracing, and materials.   Meanwhile, the stalemate continues over the contents of the coronavirus relief package in Congress.  She says it currently doesn’t include any local government aid, let alone nutrition assistance or other measures to help struggling families.


The lack of a compromise on the next coronavirus relief bill in Washington has Congressmember John Katko blaming both sides of the aisle for the dysfunction.  He held a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday night to update residents on where he stands on the legislation.  Katko called out Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for not wanting to include state and local government relief as Syracuse and Onondaga County feel the pinch of growing deficits.  And, he says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and democrats wanted to include poison pills that cater to the extreme elements of their base. 

"McConnell and Pelosi are both guilty of partisanship to the nth degree.  Neither one wanted input from the other side.  Neither one sought input from the other side.  They flat out refused input from the other side.  That's not how things are supposed to go.   Compromise and bipartisanship are what make the wheels turn  in Congress and in government."

Katko says their failure has resulted in lapses in enhanced unemployment insurance, leaving many facing economic uncertainty.  He says Congress should have stayed in session to work out a deal, which could have included a simple extension of benefits as part of a longer-term fix.  Katko says he and others have been trying to set an example of bipartisan cooperation, but most of the news coverage focuses on the negative.

"Rest assured, there's an awful lot of people that are trying to break through this gridlock in Washington and work in a bipartisan manner.  I'm leading Republicans in that manner, and I've got a lot of friends on the Democratic side trying to do that same thing.  Our voices will not be stifled.  We'll continue to work together."

Katko says he’s continuing to work on securing additional funds for hospitals and nursing homes facing  increasing costs due to the ongoing pandemic, pushing for another round of paycheck protection program funds for small businesses, and bolstering cybersecurity and other elections systems to ensure safe voting come November.  

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at