‘Do not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) More than a dozen Senate Democrats are demanding that Congress’s next relief package include funding for the media, arguing that communities across the country could lose access to the news because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Local news is in a state of crisis that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senators wrote in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Wednesday.
The media has been one of the hardest hit industries over the past few years due to the rise of social media and Big Tech platforms, the senators complained, and now that problem could become even worse.
“The current public health crisis has made the already vital role of local news even more critical,” the senators wrote, citing the World Health Organization’s concern about a “massive infodemic,” meaning, misinformation about the coronavirus and its effects.
Any new stimulus package must include a provision that is “tailored to benefit aid recipients who make a long-term commitment to high quality local news,” the letter states.
Senate Democrats also wanted an additional $125 billion in the small-business loan program to be set aside for woman-, minority- or veteran-owned businesses. Their proposal would also set aside $8 billion in funding for Native-American tribes and $3 billion for U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico.
Because these demands were not initially met, Democrats blocked a motion by McConnell on Thursday to give the unanimous consent necessary to fast-track President Donald Trump’s request for an additional $250 billion for supplemental paycheck-protection funding.
“We need more funding and we need it fast,” McConnell said. “Do not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., however, made it clear that McConnell’s request for a fast-track approval “simply can’t” survive the Democratic-controlled House.