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Sen. Coons touts COVID relief package benefits

President Biden’s signed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill Thursday, after the House passed the final version Wednesday.

And Delaware’s junior senator says the First State will benefit in a variety of ways.

Most will receive $1400 checks, but there are other parts of the relief package that will help Delawareans.

It extends the $300 per week in federal jobless benefits to early September, and spends $30 billion on public transit, $25 billion on rental assistance, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution.

It also expands the child tax credit for one year, offering up to $3,600 per child to families making $150,000 per year or less.

Sen. Chris Coons hopes that expanded credit becomes more than a one-time thing.

"Well, I'm optimistic that once we see the impact on American families it'll gain longer-term support," he said.

Coons adds education is also a huge part of the relief bill, providing $125 billion dollars for K-to-12 schools.

"Helping get schools reopened, making sure we address the homework gap, the broadband and access to remote learning," said Coons. "There is still going to be remote learning going on for some time and frankly this is an opportunity for us to invest in connectivity in ways that will make it easier for children and families that don't have broadband or don't have computers to participate in learning going forward."

Coons says another key part is helping small businesses, specifically restaurants and those who worked at restaurants that might have closed.

"I'm hopeful that the $25 billion dollars that's in this specifically targeted to restaurants will help ensure that those that can recover do, that those who can survive will, but also provide support for folks more broadly in the industry so that if you used to work for a restaurant that isn't going to reopen there will be others where you could get employed as the economy reopens," Coons said

Coons notes this package should help jumpstart the economy, and he says as soon as in six months he expects it will be roaring forward.

While raising the federal minimum wage was not part of this legislation, and Coons voted against that provision in the bill, he vows a proposal doing so will happen later this year with or without bipartisan support.

"We have to increase the federal minimum wage. $7.25 is far too low.  It's been allowed to decrease over a decade in its buying power." said Coons. "The most important part of that bill, which I strongly support, is indexing the minimum wage so it steadily goes up every year."

Coons adds he believes there is bipartisan support to move quickly toward $11 per hour to start.

"Even the (Sen. Bernie) Sanders bill didn't raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for four more years, until 2025,"said Coons. "I think some of the rsistance in my caucus was to doing it right now in the middle of a pandemic.  I'm committed to getting a minimum wage bill passed - whether it happens in a bipartisan way or whether it happens through a second reconciliation bill - we'll get that done this year."


Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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