On Thursday, September 10 Senate Democrats blocked what some called a “skinny” coronavirus relief bill. The two parties could not agree on the scale of the aid, with Republicans supporting relief for schools, small business, and jobless benefits. The $650B package was deemed too small by Senate Democrats, who opposed the bill on a near party-line vote. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) also voted against the bill.

The failure of congress to act means that additional relief is unlikely to arrive prior to the November election. While some, including Senate Minority Charles Schumer (D-NY) believe the failure of the bill could prompt further negotiations, most Senators and beltway insiders believe future talks are unlikely, and that congress will shift its attention to preventing an impending government shutdown.

“The Whatcom County economy has been reeling since March,” said Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) Executive Director Barbara Chase. “As long as these economic restrictions remain in place, our small businesses, workers, and families need more help. Letting partisan fighting get in the way of helping our community fight the twin diseases of coronavirus and economic ruin is inexcusable. Our elected leaders need to do better.”

The April passage of the CARES Act, including the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), provided temporary relief for many Whatcom County businesses and families. However, with Jay Inslee’s approach to combatting the pandemic unlikely to change, a lack of federal help could spell a new and even worse wave of business closures and job losses.

“An important election is coming up, and we encourage our community’s business leaders to take a hard look at local, state, and federal offices and support candidates who prioritize keeping our communities safe while enacting policies that do not make problems like poverty and homelessness even worse,” said Chase. “We need help from elected officials, but they also need our votes. Let’s not let them forget that.”

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