Politics

Look for a bipartisan deal on additional COVID-19 relief

US Senator John Hickenlooper finds himself in a familiar role in Washington.

The Democrat is one of 16 senators in an evenly divided party coalition Working with President Joe Biden’s team To craft the next COVID-19 relief bill.

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On Sunday, the group met for the first time with the new administration, and Heikenlooper said that the two parties had reached an agreement on prioritizing the distribution of the vaccine and economic support for those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The role is important to Hickenlooper, a first-time lawmaker who started his job less than a month ago – but not surprisingly. The two-term former governor built his reputation on creating a middle ground between polarizing parties, whether it was the oil and gas industry, environmental organizations, or members of both parties in the state legislature. It also campaigned ahead of the 2020 elections with a focus on providing more assistance to combat epidemics.

In an interview on Monday, Hickenlooper said his track record preceded him: “If you are a governor or a member of Congress, they know who you are and what things you’ve done.”

The alliance – nicknamed “Sweet 16” – is the successor to the small team of senators from both parties Break the deadlock To assemble a $ 908 billion coronavirus relief package in December 2020.

One of Hickenlooper’s priorities upon taking office was meeting with colleagues, and when the bipartisan group added two more members from each party earlier this month, he secured his party’s approval, along with an Arizona senator. Mark Kelly.

Hickenlopper said he saw the work of the first group and wanted to participate. “The Senators stepped in as there was a stalemate and found a way to decipher the records, maybe they didn’t get what either side really wanted, but it looks like there was a compromise on both sides, and it looks like I could be helpful in that,” Heikenlooper said.

Regarding the negotiations on the new bill, Heikenlober said his priorities include:

  • Government and local financial aid. He said previous discussions had distributed the money to states in a manner “unfairly biased against Colorado” and that he plans to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
  • Small Business Help. “Colorado has a large hospitality industry and a small business community that has been hit hard – and I think has been hit hard – by COVID-19. He said … I am fighting on behalf of small businesses, especially restaurants and nail salons.
  • Schools reopen. He wants to make sure the funds targeting the education system focus on providing mental health support, as well as providing protective equipment, testing and vaccines to schools.

The task ahead of Hickenlooper and his colleagues is becoming more and more difficult by the day as Republicans build opposition to big spending in a far-reaching package Biden proposed. But regarding his role, Hickenlooper said, “I will do everything I can to make sure Colorado is represented fairly.”

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