This week, Senate Republicans unveiled their roughly $1 trillion stimulus proposal, called the HEALS Act, which includes a $400 cut in "enhanced unemployment benefits" and will serve as an opening bid for bipartisan-negotiations with Democrats.
Local Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz joined Peter Daut during our 6:30 pm newscast on CBS Local 2 and Fox 11 to discuss the proposal among other topics.
Ruiz told Peter some of the issues he has with the proposal.
"I'm very concerned about that bill because it has no funding for cities, less than 500,000 population. It has no funding for states or counties or cities period. It also doesn't have the funding that the HEROES Act has for schools, and we know that we're in the process of needing to expand the capacity of needing to deal with the pandemic, in a safe manner," Ruiz said.
Last week, the City of Palm Springs publicly criticized what they called "unequal" distribution of CARES Act funds in California, prioritizing bigger cities over those who may be more affected, even with smaller populations.
Ruiz also said he has issues with the senate' proposed cuts to unemployment insurance benefits.
"We also see that they cut the extended unemployment insurance benefits, over 20 million, nearly 50 million Americans are unemployed, and the unemployment cliff is coming at the end of this week. People will no longer receive the $600 a week benefit they've been using for rent or medications or healthcare and other basic necessities. I mean if you haven't noticed with the cost of groceries have gone up almost $200 a month,and many American families are really struggling right now, and so I'm very concerned it does not have the appropriate help, that the HEROES Act has for American families," Ruiz said.
Ruiz went into detail about what he believes the HEALS Act is missing that necessary that is in the Heroes Act.
"We passed it (HEROES Act) over 60 days ago anticipating this problem. The Senate is now starting to move. There's nothing like waiting for the last minute to creating a political crisis, but the HEROES Act has a trillion dollars to help our local cities in the Coachella Valley especially Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Coachella. It has funding for schools, to help teachers and to also help with the capacity to deal with the pandemic. It has money for testing, contact tracing. It has my bills that will eliminate out of pocket costs for the care and treatment of COVID-19 if someone needs to go to the hospital for that, Ruiz said. "It also extends funding for environmental justice issues in communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley. It has a billion dollars for tribal health care to serve our most underserved Native Americans throughout our country. It extends the stimulus check and it keeps the $600 extra a week unemployment insurance until January."
Ruiz then responded to critics of the HEROES Act who say the bill is too much money and that extending the unemployment benefits will incentivize people not to return to work.
"Well that's false because an individual who refuses to go back to work loses their unemployment insurance," Ruiz said. "And two. It's a very sad state of affairs when our approach is to starve families intentionally creating hardships for them to go to a low paying job. What we need to focus on is to increase the livable wage so that getting a job is a preferential option for American families."
The topic then shifted to the recent news that Riverside County District 2 Supervisor Karen Spiegel tested positive for coronavirus. She along with Supervisor Manuel Perez originally proposed the move to revoke the county's restrictions, including face coverings, back in May.
"Well you know my thoughts about eliminating the face mask protections in the county as prematurely as they did and now we're in this situation. But my thoughts are nothing but happiness and well being for Karen Spiegel and her family to get through this illness. I don't want her to suffer, I don't want her family to suffer, I don't want anyone to suffer from this illness, so I'll be praying for her and her family for a speedy recovery," Ruiz said.
Peter then asked Ruiz about State Senator Melissa Melendez's comments on our show Monday evening. Melendez talked with Peter about why she thinks it's important to have children return to classrooms right now.
Ruiz disagreed with this sentiment.
"It defies common sense to send students back into high risk of transmission location where it is very difficult to keep physical distancing during a surge. Right now we are in a surge and we are finding ourselves without the proper and adequate apparatus of testing and contact tracing in order to put out flare-ups before they become another surge. So we have to first stop the surge," Ruiz said.