Local Commentary

The Vitally Important $1.9 Trillion

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church and is expected to chair the U.S. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee beginning this year, voted for the sweeping $1.9 trillion Covid relief American Rescue Plan on Wednesday, contributing to the Democratic majority that cast all the votes for it. Shortly before casting his vote, Beyer told his colleagues during floor debate: “My vote today for the American Rescue Plan will be the most consequential vote I have ever cast as a member of the House.”

Beyer said, “The American Rescue Plan is $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief legislation. Today we show that democracy works. Today we make available all the resources needed to end the pandemic that has killed 527,000 Americans. Today we lift millions of American children out of poverty. Today we make an investment to get our children back to school safely. Today we authorize economic impact payments to millions of our citizens behind on their rents and car payments and unable to buy groceries. Today we extend unemployment insurance for the ten percent of Americans still out of work because of the virus. Today we send national help to the state and local governments who employ the heroes who provide our quality of life: police, firefighters, teachers, child protective service workers, sanitation workers, and many others.”

And, finally, most poignantly, he summarized, “Today we reject the social Darwinism of our Republican friends. We reject the ethic of every man, woman, and child for themselves.”

Beyer’s colleague. Rep. Adam Schiff, added important remarks of his own, saying, “ I believe the act will set the stage for an economic revival, and one where the benefits will be shared by all Americans, not the wealthiest few.” He went on, “There is some bad news though. Despite polls showing that 60 percent or more of the American people supported this bill, not one Republican voted for it. And what a contrast; Republicans pushed a two trillion dollar tax cut for wealthy families and big corporations, and Democrats advanced a bill of the same size for working families. That should tell you a lot about the parties’ respective priorities.”

“Not one Republican in the House. Not one Republican in the Senate. It goes to show that the Republican Party stands for one thing: Trying to foil Joe Biden and the Democratic agenda, even if it means standing against help that people desperately need,” he said.

The contrast is between the stock portfolios of the tiny fraction of the wealthiest Americans and their international colleagues, and the kitchen tables of hundreds of millions of Americans.

In the latter case, sadly there’s no way the 527,000 lives lost to Covid-19 can come back to those tables, but there will be food and opportunity on them for all the champions battling the pandemic and everyone else, too.