Schumer hopeful Covid relief bill will come soon for small businesses, local governments

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 November 2020 at 6:53 pm

Senator is pleased Rochester will be Triple AAA team for Washington Nationals after Twins departure

Photos by Tom Rivers: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer spoke in Medina today about the need for the federal government to release $9 billion in funding already designated for Covid testing and contact tracing. Schumer took questions from the media and said a new federal relief package is needed for small businesses and local governments. Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, also attended the press conference.

MEDINA – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer was at Medina Memorial Hospital today to show his support for releasing $9 billion in federal funds for free Covid testing and more tracing. He highlighted Orleans County as a community without free Covid testing for residents.

The senator said he also is determined to get another Covid relief bill passed, and very soon. He said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed open today to negotiating a deal.

Schumer said he wants the $2.2 billion HEROES Act already passed by the House of Representatives to be the framework for the package. That includes funding for schools and other local governments.

The state has warned schools they could be facing a 20 percent cut in aid. That would be about $5 million for Albion and Medina.

“We have to get aid, not just testing aid, we need aid for businesses, we need aid for unemployment, we need aid for local governments, we need aid for many things,” Schumer said.

The senator said the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided a lifeline to small businesses and he favors expanding that program in the new relief package.

“We need something very similar and strong,” he said about the PPP. “That is what we’re trying to do.”

A previous proposal from McConnell didn’t include local government aid, which stalled discussions. Schumer said he is more optimistic today that McConnell is open to the aid to local governments.

“We need state and local aid,” Schumer said. “It affects our governments and the schools. It is at the top of our list.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer arrives at Medina Memorial Hospital for a press conference this morning about the need for a free Covid testing site in Orleans County.

Schumer acknowledged there is a shortage of PPE for hospitals and businesses and the relief package needs to help organizations have PPE for their employees.

The senator also responded to criticism Gov. Andrew Cuomo has faced about wanting to ensure the vaccine is safe and fairly distributed to people throughout the state. Cuomo has been criticized for slowing down the vaccine’s distribution in the state.

“The governor was simply trying to make sure the vaccine is distributed effectively to all parts of the state and efficiently,” Schumer said. “For him to request that is just fine. We need vaccines and I’ll be on top of that working with the governor to make sure New York gets its fair share.”

The senator from Brooklyn said he was happy to share some good news at press conference outside Medina Memorial Hospital this morning.

The senator confirmed the Washington Nationals are bringing their Triple AAA baseball team to Rochester and leaving Fresno, Ca. The Minnesota Twins announced last week they were ending an 18-year agreement with Rochester for Triple AAA.

Rochester didn’t have to wait long for a new team. The Nationals won the World Series in 2019. Schumer said he spoke with the Nationals owners on Wednesday, and urged them to commit to Rochester.

Binghamton also will have a minor league team in 2021. Schumer said he wants to press now for Batavia and Auburn to keep their professional teams in the future.

“We’re trying to convince Major League baseball that these teams are vital,” Schumer said.

The baseball games bring several hundred people to downtown Batavia, with many going to restaurants and other businesses before or after games.

These protestors stood along Ohio Street near the hospital and said Democrats are trying to steal the presidential election from Donald J. Trump. “Lying, Cheating Democrats,” the man holding the “Trump 2024” sign shouted several times. Schumer’s conference was moved from near the road to farther down the driveway away from the protestors.

The protestors also heckled members of the media. “You couldn’t tell the truth if it bit you in the a–,” one of the demonstrators yelled to the journalists.