ON THE RECORD: Sen. Tammy Duckworth hopeful for COVID-19 stimulus package, supportive of canceling student loans

On The Record

WASHINGTON D.C. (WMBD) — Will a COVID-19 stimulus package be approved in December? Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) hopes so.

“I really hope there is one because people are desperately awaiting it, our businesses are in trouble, our families are having a hard time paying their bills. Our hospitals are going to have a hard time if they don’t get some money soon,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth joined WMBD/WYZZ’s Matt Sheehan for “On the Record” Tuesday to discuss where Congress is at with another stimulus package, the future presidency of Joe Biden, and the idea of canceling student loans.

“Right now there’s more student loan debt held in this country than there is credit card debt. That is not sustainable. What I have supported is moving towards a debt-free college, that’s not free college, debt-free so that you should be able to work your way through college like I did. I worked two jobs, I don’t want anyone to have to work two jobs, you should be able to work your way through college and have college tuition be low enough that you can actually graduate college without debt.”

Sen. tammy duckworth (d) illinois

Duckworth said it’s been far too long for Americans to have gone without a stimulus package, and blames Senate Republicans Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not coming to the table to discuss one.

“I’ve been waiting for one for almost five months now. The House passed the Cares Act that long ago, I’ve been proposing things for the next stimulus bill,” Duckworth said. “Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell has not allowed any of these to come up for a vote, I hope he actually comes and negotiates. He hasn’t even attended a negotiation meeting.”

Duckworth said she also supports the canceling of student loan debt, but she’d have to read the fine print first. She said she’s a proponent of “debt-free college,” but not “free college.”

“Right now there’s more student loan debt held in this country than there is credit card debt. That is not sustainable. What I have supported is moving towards a debt-free college, that’s not free college, debt-free so that you should be able to work your way through college like I did,” Duckworth said. “I worked two jobs, I don’t want anyone to have to work two jobs, you should be able to work your way through college and have college tuition be low enough that you can actually graduate college without debt.”

Duckworth brought up the idea of trading in a job or service to help pay for college tuition.

“You could go to work for the Salvation Army, or Habitat for Humanity and be able to get college credit the way you pick up a rifle and serve like I did in the Army with the GI bill,” Duckworth said.

On Jan. 20, President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States of America. Back in May, WMBD reported Duckworth was interviewing to be Biden’s Vice President.

Duckworth holds the United States Senate seat previously held by Biden’s previous running mate, former President Barack Obama.

Duckworth said she is happy with her seat on the Senate and is in close contact with the Biden transition team. She said she has a lot of faith the Biden Administration can help America come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and become financially strong once again.

“I think that Joe Biden is uniquely positioned with all the experience he has. I’m sure you’ve seen from the leadership team he’s put together, he’s put people together that are able to address all of the major issues,” Duckworth said. “People who fought the Ebola crisis are now going to be leading his team to fight COVID-19. Janet Yellen is going to head Treasury, someone who helped our economy in the past is going to help us get back on track with the economy again.”

Duckworth believes Illinois is ready for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Part of that is going to have to include the abilities of the National Guard. The Illinois National Guard is very capable of assisting in that. I think hospitals and the healthcare network can do it, except that they are stretched thin right now,” Duckworth said. “We haven’t sent them any money, which goes back to where we started which is we need a stimulus package out there with money to hospitals and cities so they can help do the things they do like distribute the vaccine.”

Congress just returned to Washington D.C. on Monday.

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