This auxiliary bill was passed in the House of Representatives without Republicans voting in favor of the measure, and some Senate Republicans have taken steps to slow progress in that House.
US Representative Buddy Carter voted against the bill last month but said he wanted to see improvement, such as addressing a delay in vaccination rates in color communities. The Pooler Republican said he has seen communities like Savannah, which he represents, struggle to ensure access and overcome distrust among black residents.
“We need to add more money to encourage vaccine reluctance in minority communities,” Carter said. “And they need to be more specific about the guidelines in the reconciliation itself about what we’re going to do to address this.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, blacks make up 33% of the Georgian population but currently account for 12% of all vaccinations.
Carter worked with some Democrats to come up with ideas like free transportation to vaccination sites and working with historically black colleges and universities or state-qualified health centers to create pop-up clinics. He wants $ 500 million in the bill to be earmarked for such efforts.
Ossoff and Warnock have made passing COVID-19 relief, including another round of stimulus checks to Georgians, their primary focus since they were sworn into office on Jan. 20. Both said Wednesday that fair vaccine distribution is key to keeping the coronavirus under control.
“We were in the early days of the pandemic with testing where it was elites and those with wealth and connections who had special access to testing, while people who are actually at the highest risk because of the work they do, could not be tested. Said Ossoff. “And we run the risk of going the same way with vaccines.”
He said now that vaccine supplies are growing, the US Department of Health needs resources to “make sure these vaccines get to black and brown communities and rural areas.”
Meanwhile, US Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee, is looking for ways to downsize the overall package. She and four other Democrats sent a letter to Schumer and House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi this week proposing to remove parts of the bill that are not directly related to COVID-19, although they do not specify what provisions they are on would aim.
The group also suggests keeping unemployment benefits longer, but adding the flexibility that allows it to decrease as the economy improves. They also recommend reassessing the income limits for direct stimulus testing, noting that a family of four with an income of $ 175,000 with no job loss will receive $ 2,800.
“We owe it to the country to provide emergency aid and defeat the virus,” wrote the legislature. “But we owe it to our grandchildren to make sure that deficit spending is really focused on emergencies.”
In the letter, Bourdeaux and the others also suggest revising the formula for state and local dollars so that the money is introduced gradually over time and fluctuates based on the economic conditions of each state.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said the current formula is saving states whose job losses were more severe during the pandemic. Although Georgia is the eighth largest state in the country, the $ 8.2 billion it is set to receive under the plan ranks 11th.
“In terms of the direct impact on hardworking Georgians, the current formula being considered in Congress would give a New York resident more than 50% more than a Georgia resident,” Kemp told Fox News this week. “Peach State would be worst hit under this new plan, receiving almost $ 1.3 billion less than if the previous formula were applied. This is unacceptable.”
The Senate has not yet announced what changes it might consider during its debate on the plan, and it is not clear whether there is support for revising the budget for states or optimizing vaccine policy.
Warnock’s office this week denied claims that Georgia was understaffed, pointing out that recent GOP proposals did not include state and local funding.
He said Wednesday that the COVID-19 Relief Act is designed to meet public health needs during a pandemic while strengthening the U.S. economy. Georgia voters sent him to Washington to ensure that a measure is passed that meets the needs of families, businesses and governments, he said.
“It’s time for the Senate to get this across the finish line,” he said. “We can’t wait another day.”
ExploreThe latest COVID relief bill promises Georgia billions in new funds