EXCLUSIVE: Congresswoman Waters, who secured $25 billion for renter’s assistance, calls out her Republican colleagues and said she will fight for more COVID-19 relief
The passage of the $900 billion stimulus plan over the weekend came after months of stalled negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The latest plan carries a cheaper price tag than the CARES Act stimulus package from last March, with Congresswoman Maxine Waters expressing apologies to the American public while vowing to continue her hard work in delivering aid and assistance to the people.
TheGrio spoke with the California congresswoman Sunday evening (Dec. 20), shortly after a press call to go over the finer points of a particular portion of the package aimed at an important segment of the population.
Since March, Rep. Waters has been on the frontlines for renters in search of relief and assistance from the federal government, introducing last March the Financial Protections and Assistance for America’s Consumers, States, Businesses, and Vulnerable Populations Act.
Waters, who serves as the chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, introduced alongside her Democratic Party colleague Denny Heck the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act last May, which called for $100 billion to be dispersed to individuals and families struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the wake of the stimulus bill’s passage, Waters and the Democrats were able to secure $25 billion for renter’s assistance, but with honest candor, Waters said that President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will hear more from the committee and other elected officials who pledge to do more for their constituents.
“First of all, I apologize to the American public that this has taken so long,” Congresswoman Waters told theGrio. “People are suffering, people are in food lines, when people talk about food insecurity, people are hungry, and renters are absolutely frightened about whether or not they’ll be evicted.
Waters graciously added, “Individuals who are losing their unemployment benefits are absolutely unnerved by the fact that the government wouldn’t assist them the way we did with the CARES Act. So I apologize for all this trauma and the lack of immediate assistance to the public. However, I’m pleased we’ve come to the point that we at least have $900 billion.”
Congresswoman Waters added that the Democrats compromised down from the HEROES 2.0 bill that passed through the House of Representatives last October from $2.2 trillion down to the current package’s numbers, saying in her comments that her side, “couldn’t get the Republicans to come to the table and negotiate in good faith.”
Waters then noted that the $100 billion in aid she sought for renters was “whittled down” to $25 billion, saying with assuredness that this is just the beginning of her fight for those in dire need.
“$25 billion will get us into the next administration and that administration will have to extend the eviction moratoriums and come up with more money for rental assistance,” Waters said plainly.
She continued: “And with rental assistance, not only do we take care of emergency assistance, but also the arrears. We have mom and pop landlords where these properties is their retirement income. They need assistance in paying the mortgages. This gets us until the new administration comes in, and they’re going to have to do more.”
TheGrio asked Congresswoman Waters how the resistance from her Republican colleagues became the stonewall that it did, all while the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across large and small cities nationwide.
“It runs deep. People don’t often understand the philosophies that are at work,” Waters explained of GOP leadership on this issue. “Republicans believe that it is not the government’s responsibility to help in the way Democrats believe. It is absolutely our responsibility to provide a safety net for those who need us.
Congresswoman Waters dug in with her comments adding, “The Republicans don’t care as much, they philosophically don’t believe that they should be doing more. It is absolutely unbelievable that they have followers, many who are poor, who also need help.
“It is not to be understood but it is understood that the Republicans have made it clear that they don’t intend to spend huge amounts of money, even with COVID-19, to help people standing in lines for food and people shaking in their boots begging not to be evicted.”
Political analysts have undoubtedly combed through the finer points of the stimulus package, taking note that corporations and industries received significant financial boosts as they had before in the CARES Act.
Congresswoman Waters concluded her thoughts on the Republicans’ insistence to assist businesses and the wealthy, but not the common American citizen.
“They don’t mind spending the money on tax breaks for the richest people in this country but for poor people, they don’t care,” Waters said with her usual flair.
At the conclusion of the chat, Congresswoman Waters repeated the apologies to the public on behalf of her fellow House members, stating that they shouldn’t have had to wait as long as they did to get assistance from, in her words, the “very government that they pay their taxes to.”
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