West Virginia leaders put out COVID aid wish list for Congress

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – More money is likely coming from Washington, DC to the states for COVID-19 relief. Most everyone agrees that additional vaccines and testing supplies are badly needed – there are disputes over things such as unemployment extensions, and whether the benefit should be 300 or 600 dollars per week. And critics say only a small portion of the bill is actually COVID-19 related.

“About 10 percent of that covers the health issues and the other 90 percent is bloated with long-term spending. Whether it’s a bridge or whether it’s an underground railroad, whether it’s pension relief,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia.

Senator Capito says most Republicans favor a $300-dollar a week unemployment supplement, but she’ll support President Joe Biden’s $400 level. Most Democrats and some public policy advocates argue $600 dollars would be better.

“And getting those expansions on the unemployment benefits. They’re about to expire for about 30-thousand people. And the economy is not where it needs to be to see those things go away. So we need that level of support still,” said Sean O’Leary, West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy.

Still others say Congress needs to spend more for health care, especially since so many rural hospitals have closed their doors.

“We’ve got a lot of poor areas in this state and they need the health care money. And I’d like to see it go to offset what they are having problems with in those areas,” said Del. Jim Barach, (D) Kanawha.

Right now it’s estimated the next round of stimulus checks will be 1,400 dollars per adult.

The 2-trillion dollar aid package is on the fast track. The U.S. House will vote it up or down on Friday, then it’s on to the U.S. Senate where it faces a more uncertain future.

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