Sen. Durbin talks task force, immigration, COVID-19 relief efforts

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced Tuesday, Illinois will receive $4.9 billion in state and local stabilization funds from the coronavirus relief fund established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It aims to help offset the significant increased costs that state and local governments are facing from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve made an investment that’s historic,” said Sen. Durbin. “$2.2 trillion in the bill that passed the senate 96-0. Today or tomorrow, there will be a bill passing in the senate which is probably close to $470 billion more for small businesses, for hospitals, for testing. We need to do it and this economy needs to get back on its feet and get people back to work.”

“The funding authorized by the bipartisan CARES Act stimulus is a good first step in helping state and local governments across Illinois that are hardest hit by this public health and economic crisis,” Duckworth said. “I’ll keep working with Senator Durbin to ensure more federal resources are allocated to help Illinoisans during this pandemic.”

Senate Democrats have proposed additional funding for state and local governments in the next relief bill, with funding directed to more localities and increased flexibility so localities can use funds to replace the significant loss in revenue they are facing as a result of the pandemic.

The CARES Act requires that the payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund only be used to cover expenses that:

(1) are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic;

(2) were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and

(3) were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020. 

Durbin also called on the education secretary to limit emergency federal aid to for-profit colleges, instead recommending the dollars should focus on public institutions.

“We’ve learned the hard that these for-profit schools…many of them are worthless,” said Durbin. “Students are spending their money, going in debt, getting worthless diplomas if they ever finish. Now, these schools think they’re going to have a great resurgence and return because people want to go to college online. Keep in mind, that the schools you know in your community, the community colleges, the local colleges and universities, those are the degrees that are worth the time and worth the money.”

President Trump said he is temporarily suspending immigration into the US because of COVID-19.

Monday night, the president tweeted that he will sign an executive order to halt immigration to fight against what he calls the quote “invisible enemy and to protect the jobs of American citizens.

“Let’s be careful,” said Durbin. “First, we can agree on one thing, we don’t want anyone to come into this country who is dangerous. Either because of their criminal activity or because of their health status. Period. End of quote. No exceptions. But then, beyond that there are people who come to this country who are immigrants, who are the famiy for example, for the healthcare workers. The doctors, the nurses…so let’s not put everybody in the same category. Let’s be careful about this.”

At this time, it’s unclear how the executive order will be carried out or how long the suspension could last.

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