CORONAVIRUS

Ashley Hinson calls congressional COVID relief package a 'good start'

Ashley Hinson speaks with Kim Guardado, HACAP Food Reservoir director, in July during a visit the HACAP Food Reservoir i
Ashley Hinson speaks with Kim Guardado, HACAP Food Reservoir director, in July during a visit the HACAP Food Reservoir in Hiawatha. Hinson, who was elected to represent Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, said she has heard from residents that “families are struggling to put food on the table.” (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

After months of frustrations as she watched Congress “sit on their hands,” congresswoman-elect Ashley Hinson is encouraged by progress on an end-of-year COVID-19 relief package that is expected to extend unemployment benefits and provide direct assistance to those affected by the pandemic.

Hinson, who will take a seat in the U.S. House in January, said she’s hearing from Iowa 1st Congressional District residents that “families are struggling to put food on the table heading into the holiday week, through no fault of their own.”

She said she was glad to see Congress “finally moved forward with this. It’s badly needed,” Hinson told reporters Monday. “But I think there are a lot of people who share my sentiment that this is too little, too late.”

Congress is expected to approve a $900 billion economic relief package that will deliver aid to millions of households and businesses that have struggled for months to survive.

However, Hinson indicated there’s more to be done to help families who are struggling and to assist businesses “here in Iowa and across the country (that) had to close their doors — some of them permanently ... get back up and running.”

She called the latest round of pandemic relief “a good start,” but stopped short of endorsing President-elect Joe Biden’s position that whatever Congress approves will be a down payment on a larger response to the economic chaos caused by COVID-19.

The biggest challenge may be the unemployment numbers heading into the holidays, she said. “I’m worried about what a possible shutdown would look like for unemployment across the country. So I think we’ll have to be responsive come the new year.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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