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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inland Northwest’s Congressional delegation backs pandemic relief package

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is all smiles while meeting with media on election night, Nov. 3, 2020, at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
By Kip Hill The Spokesman-Review

The $900 billion pandemic relief package was supported by every member of the Inland Northwest’s Congressional delegation when it passed by chambers of Congress last week. Both Republicans and Democrats conceded the legislation wasn’t perfect, but rolled together with a federal spending bill funding the government through September, the legislation also included funding for programs the region’s lawmakers identified as important.

“This package isn’t perfect, but it’s important we took action, after months of partisan delays, to provide relief to Eastern Washington families,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a statement last week after voting in favor of the legislation. The congresswoman noted that the legislation included three years of funding for the federal teaching health center program providing training to health care workers at Washington State University in Spokane, and increased pay for members of the military.

Sen. Patty Murray had been critical of Trump’s delay, noting that it would imperil unemployment benefits for people put out of work by the pandemic. Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday said that the state would spend $54 million in providing some support for nearly 95,000 out-of-work Washingtonians who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for assistance.

Murray also said she supported Trump’s push in a White House address to up the stimulus assistance to $2,000. The bill the president signed will send checks for $600 instead.

“If the President can get (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell & his party on board, we can get this done. And we absolutely should,” Murray tweeted last week. Murray also noted the package included provisions preventing surprise medical billing – a practice where those receiving health care end up with a bigger bill than anticipated due to out-of-network providers at the center where they receive care.