Emily’s Weekly Political Scoop: Updates on COVID-19 Relief Plan, the Georgia Election, and Nancy Pelosi

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Emily Landolfi, Staff Writer

We might have taken a break for the holidays, but politics did not. We have to catch up on the news about the COVID-19 relief plan, Georgia’s Election, and Nancy Pelosi’s reelection as Speaker. Hopefully, you gain some answers and clarity.  

President Trump has signed a legislative packaging including the COVID-relief plan on Sunday, December 27th. Brain Naylor, an NPR writer, broke down the package explaining individual benefits, small business help, vaccines, broadband access, transportation aid, education, agriculture, medical bills, and tax-deductible meals. Individually, every adult and child making up to $75,000 will get $600 direct payment checks, those making between $75,00-$87,000 will get smaller checks, and those who are earning over $87,000 will not be receiving any. Lawmakers have enhanced unemployment benefits for jobless workers, giving them $300 per week till mid-March. The measure also includes $25 billion to assist families with paying their rent and the extension of temporary eviction prohibition in effect till January 31st. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will also be given $13 billion (Naylor). 

Small-businesses will be gaining the help they need with some $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans. $15 billion will be for live venues, independent movie theaters, cultural institutions, and Democrats looking to expand the eligibility for the loans to involve nonprofits and local newspapers and TV and radio stations. Moving on to vaccines, a regular topic of discussion, $68 billion will be used to assist states with the testing process and the purchase and distribution of the vaccine, and $20 billion of the $68 billion will make it accessible at no cost (Naylor). Now, something you may not know is broadband internet. Reviews.org gives a simple, easily digestible definition stating, “Broadband is the most common form of internet access. The word “broadband” refers to wide-bandwidth data transmission, which is a fancy way of saying your internet is always connected and doesn’t depend on a phone line connection” (Abbott). The package includes $7 billion to increase access to broadband internet to help students’ families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need (Naylor). 

Transportation is being provided $45 billion for assistance, specifically $16 billion for airlines, $14 billion for mass transit agencies, $10 billion for highways, and $1 billion for Amtrak, a railroad company. Education is another priority, receiving $82 billion in fundings for schools and universities and $2.75 billion for private K-12 learning. Agriculture is considered, as $13 billion will be used for framers and agriculture, and so are medical bills (Naylor). The NPR article states, “The measure also includes a provision ending surprise medical billing. Republicans say patients would be required to receive a ‘true and honest cost estimate’ three days before any scheduled procedure and that billing disputes would be subject to arbitration” (Naylor). Lastly, a provision is included making the cost of meals a deductible business expense (Naylor). Of course, the bill includes more. However, these are the main points to take into account.

NBC News reports that voters are casting their votes in a runoff election in Georgia that will determine the Senate’s balance, deciding whether Republicans will maintain control or if Democrats will become the majority. Democrat Jon Osoff is running against Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term just expired, and Democrat Raphel Warnock is against GOP Senate Kelly Loffler, who is currently seated. On Monday, they made their final campaign pitches, with Biden supporting Ossoff and Warnock and Trump-supporting Loefeller and Perdue (Shabad). 

Furthermore, if both Democratic candidates win, a split of 50-50 would be created. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaker after she and Biden take office on January 20th. If Republicans maintain the majority in the Senate, they would have power over Biden’s political and judicial appointments and many policy initiatives. Depending on the margins, results could be released early on Wednesday morning or much later (McKay). 

According to Associated Press News on Sunday, Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as Speaker for another two-years. She stated, “We accept a responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced” (Fram). She has led the Democratic party in the House since 2003 and is the only woman to be Speaker. Overall, Pelosi received 216 votes compared to Republican McCarthy, the chamber’s minority leader, who received 209 votes. He also accused her of being the least-productive Congress leader in about 50 years while handing her the Speaker’s gavel, a ceremonial moment. She did, however, earn a standing ovation when the final tally was announced, and she stated, “Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus. And defeat it, we will” (Fram).  

 

With more information and authorization of the COVID-19 relief bill on top of Georgia’s election and Nancy Pelosi’s reelection, this week is filled with waiting and results. Hopefully, we will not have to wait too long for Georgia’s results, but there is no guarantee it will happen quickly. 

Works Cited

Abbott, Tyler. “What Is Broadband Internet? It May Be What You’re Using Now.” Reviews.org, 21 June 2019, www.reviews.org/internet-service/what-is-broadband-internet/. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

Fram, Alan. “Pelosi Narrowly Reelected Speaker, Faces Difficult Two Years.” AP NEWS, 3 Jan. 2021, apnews.com/article/nancy-pelosi-reelected-house-speaker-2c4793b39dcfae18b2c66a8659042e2f. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

Naylor, Brain. “Here Is What’s In The COVID-19 Relief Package.” NPR.org, 28 Dec. 2020, www.npr.org/2020/12/21/948744901/here-is-whats-in-congress-covid-19-relief-package. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

Shabad, Rebecca. “Georgia Voters Head to the Polls in Pivotal Senate Races.” NBC News, 5 Jan. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/georgia-voters-head-polls-pivotal-senate-runoff-elections-n1252815. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

McKay, Rich, and Nathan Layne. “With Biden’s Agenda at Stake, Georgia Voters Cast Ballots in Senate Runoff Elections.” Reuters, 5 Jan. 2021, www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-georgia/with-bidens-agenda-at-stake-georgia-voters-cast-ballots-in-senate-runoff-elections-idUSKBN29A13V.