Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Coronavirus crisis requires Congress to unite – Stop arguing and take action

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Democrats and Republicans in Congress must unite immediately on a bipartisan basis to respond to the health and economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic.

This pandemic has altered the course of our nation and our daily lives. The effects will last for weeks, months and potentially years to come. The people of my district, as well as Americans across our country, need immediate help.

We are in the middle of a national emergency, so now is not the time to delay our response by arguing about issues that can be put off for future debate.

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Aid is needed now on the front lines of this crisis. Our hospitals and nursing homes need personal protective equipment – gowns, masks, respirators, shields, and more – to protect our frontline health care providers and to stop the further spread of this deadly virus and care for the afflicted.

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Since the pandemic began, I’ve repeatedly heard these deep, grave concerns from our hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, community health centers and caregivers – the true heroes in this unprecedented national emergency. However, time is running out to provide additional support before we see more spikes in COVID-19 cases in our neighborhoods and communities.

Our economy also needs strong and swift assistance. Our workers are facing layoffs, and they are fearful about how they will keep food on their tables and roofs over their heads.

Our small businesses, nonprofits, and large employers are struggling and trying to adjust to an unknown future. Schoolchildren nationwide are at home or in makeshift, alternative care, and millions are going without the nutrition support they so desperately need.

These are the devastating problems our first and second relief bills passed in Congress began to address – with broad bipartisan support – and our third relief package must follow suit.

Amid this heightening crisis, we must be deeply responsive to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the health and financial security of our citizens and country.

This is why I oppose any efforts to pursue unrelated policy objectives or funding priorities that may slow down negotiations in our time of crisis. My expectation is that leaders of both parties will keep this same focus in mind.

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Unfortunately, over the last few days, the American people continue to witness partisan behavior and political theater that do nothing to help parents worried about their children, small business owners worried about their cash flow, or courageous doctors and nurses risking their own lives to save the lives of their fellow Americans.

Many unnecessary roadblocks have already been created by both parties – from a Democratic provision to fund the Kennedy Center’s operating costs to a Republican provision establishing a $500 billion slush fund controlled by the Treasury Department with little oversight of its administration and implementation.

These provisions are nothing short of distracting. With lives and financial futures on the line, they could hinder critical progress at a time marked by extreme pain and uncertainty.

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We are in a serious moment that requires serious legislation. In the coming months, we will surely have many conversations about the next-step investments necessary to rebuild an economy ravaged by this virus, but we must take action now when lives are on the line. Partisan games will only slow our response.

Just as we responded following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and just as an earlier generation rallied in a united front to fight World War II, members of Congress must respond to the coronavirus pandemic without regard to our party affiliation.

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