Opinion: Congress Should Do Their Job So Millions of Americans Can Do Theirs Millions of Americans are suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic while Congress fails to agree on another round of relief.
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Opinion: Congress Should Do Their Job So Millions of Americans Can Do Theirs

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Opinion: Congress Should Do Their Job So Millions of Americans Can Do Theirs

Opinion: Congress Should Do Their Job So Millions of Americans Can Do Theirs

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Congress used to like to pass spending bills before an election. Representatives could return home to campaign and say, look what we did for you. But with 13.6 million people out of work, Congress may not pass a new coronavirus relief bill. Both parties may feel in today's fractious politics they can fire up their supporters best if they don't compromise and blame the other party.

Congress passed the $2 trillion CARES Act in late March. It included unemployment benefits, direct payments, small-business loans and support for health care, education, airlines and corporations. Loretta and Sam Adderson didn't get a dime. As much as $23.5 billion was targeted for farmers, and the Addersons grow kale, spinach and collard greens in Burke County, Ga. But most of the markets where they sold their produce have shut down or gone into limited operation. Loretta and Sam Adderson are in their mid-70s and may now lose the farm they've nourished with their toil and dreams.

A poll published by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says at least half the people in America's four largest cities say they've lost their jobs, suffered a pay cut and used up their life savings. Most are Black or Latino families. Robert J. Blendon at Harvard says, we had a $2 trillion relief bill to lift people up and put a pillow under them, but it is not helping nearly as many people as we had expected.

There's still long food lines in cities and towns, shuttered businesses, lost farms and growing homelessness. The CDC says more Americans have mental health problems, use more drugs and alcohol and report more thoughts of suicide. Republicans say the country can't afford the more than $2 trillion Democrats want for a new relief bill. Democrats say the $1 trillion proposed by Republicans is too little to be useful. That difference of a trillion dollars may add up to a grand total of nothing for the American people. At a time when so many Americans are out of work, how are members of Congress performing the jobs they've been elected to do?

(SOUNDBITE OF BRENKY'S "RANDOM")

SIMON: And if you struggle with thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text HOME to 741741.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRENKY'S "RANDOM")

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