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Illinois’ U.S. senators praise passage of $1.9 trillion relief package

By Dan McCaleb | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Illinois’ two U.S. senators, Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, praised Saturday’s passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan after their Saturday votes.

The massive spending bill, which critics say contains hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful spending unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic, passed Saturday on a party-line, 50-49 vote with one Republican absent.

“Relief is coming to hardworking families all across Illinois because of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan,” Duckworth said in a joint news release issued through Durbin’s office. Durbin and Duckworth joined their Democratic colleagues in voting for the measure. “Working together, Senator Durbin and I helped secure billions in investments that will boost our state’s vaccination efforts and testing availability while also delivering the support our working families, childcare programs, transportation systems, schools and small businesses need to get through this pandemic. These investments meet the moment and will help end this deadly pandemic.”

According to the news release, the $1.9 trillion package, which must return to the House for a concurrence vote because of changes made in the Senate, Illinois stands to receive:

  • $275 million in vaccine distribution money;
  • $1.5 billion for state health departments
  • More than $100 million for mental health and substance abuse treatment efforts in Illinois
  • $5 billion for K-12 schools
  • About $1.3 billion for Illinois institutions of higher education
  • About $39 million for Illinois Head Start programs
  • About $1.3 billion for child care providers

Also according to Durbin’s office, nearly 7.6 million Illinois adults and more than 3 million Illinois children will receive relief checks of up to $1,400.

Federal supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 a week will be extended through Sep. 6.

The most criticized aspect of the plan is a bailout of state and local governments for debt incurred unrelated to the pandemic.

According to Durbin’s office, Illinois will receive about $13.2 billion in state and local funding to “avoid dramatic budget cuts at every level of government.”

. That includes about $7.5 billion for state government and $5.5 billion for Illinois local governments, including $1.8 billion for Chicago.

Illinois also will receive about $1.5 billion in transit funding for the Chicago region, Durbin’s office said, as well as $388 million for Illinois airports.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.

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