PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Federal lawmakers gathered virtually Monday morning for a Congressional breakfast to discuss a number of issues the state is facing.
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed and Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin provided insight on how they think the state, and country, can get back on its feet.
“This is a unique circumstance,” Reed said. “I don’t think anyone was prepared for it nor has anyone seen anything quite like it.”
The breakfast, hosted by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, also allowed small business owners to join in on the conversation.
“This pandemic has caused me to remember that both the state, local government, and obviously the federal government has a very direct impact on people’s lives,” Cicilline said.
That direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be seen in the form of stimulus packages and other federal relief that Rhode Island residents have received.
“We also need Congress to do everything they can to exercise robust fiscal policy,” Langevin said.
The lawmakers said they support more federal funding and that it needs to come sooner rather than later.
“I doubt August will come without another COVID bill,” Whithouse said. “I think the Fourth of July is going to be a benchmark for negotiations with the House around their wonderful ‘Heroes Bill.'”
The “Heroes Act” is a proposed $3 trillion stimulus package that would authorize another round of payment for most U.S. citizens.
Cicilline said the bill could bring another $5.5 billion in relief to Rhode Island.
“We know the consequences of inaction,” Cicilline said. “People are hurting, small businesses are struggling and it’s going to require additional action from the federal government.”
The lawmakers also discussed racial inequality and the growing calls for police reform. They said they anticipate a wide-ranging police reform bill to hit the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Right now, that bill has bipartisan support.