US Congress urged to target relief package based on data

Washington, March 3
The US Chamber of Commerce called on Congress to target the Covid-19 relief package based on the latest data, arguing that the economic situation has changed since the introduction of the plan.

"Since the introduction of the American Rescue Plan, we have learned that personal savings have grown substantially with Americans saving almost $3 trillion since the pandemic began," Neil Bradley, the Chamber's executive vice president and chief policy officer, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Bradley noted that the majority of states have not suffered a significant loss in tax revenue, and some have more revenue than pre-pandemic, reports Xinhua news agncy.

"These facts are not a reason for inaction, but they are a reason to target aid where it is needed," Bradley said.

"The failure of Congress to heed the data and revise the American Rescue Plan means less money for other priorities, including infrastructure and education," he added.

Bradley's statement came a few days after the Democrats-held House of Representatives approved a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package amid unanimous Republican opposition.

Calling it a Democratic wish list, Republican lawmakers said that the plan includes provisions that they see as unrelated to the crisis, and that the high price tag could result in unsustainable debt for future generations.

"This isn't a recipe to safely reopen America. It's what Democrats promised almost a year ago: Taking advantage of the crisis to check off unrelated liberal policies," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tweeted on Tuesday.

Democrats, however, voiced strong support for the relief, highlighting the urgency to rein in the surging pandemic, which has claimed 516,476 lives and infected 28,717,629 others, and to bolster the ravaged economy, with millions of Americans still out of work and businesses grappling with the economic fallout from the crisis.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the upper chamber will move forward as soon as Wednesday on the relief bill and pledged there will be enough votes to pass it.

In February, Democrats moved to pass a procedural step in both chambers, allowing them to push through the big relief bill in Congress without Republican support, a move criticised by Republicans as a "partisan process".