Richmond says new pandemic relief bill should be passed before Christmas
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said Tuesday that a new COVID-19 stimulus package — which Congress has been deadlocked on since the summer – needs to be worked out by Christmas.
“We have a responsibility as a federal government to help people, and I believe that we will get it done. But we should get it done before Christmas,” Richmond said. “We should not wait to drop this on the lap of the next president. We are the United States Congress — the House and the Senate — and we should get it done.”
Richmond’s comments came at a press conference where he officially announced that he is leaving Congress to serve in a senior adviser role in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. In addition to advising Biden, the New Orleans native will also oversee public engagement for the White House, similar to how former senior adviser Valerie Jarrett operated in the Obama administration.
The congressman noted that the Democratic-controlled House passed the HEROES Act — a next-round stimulus bill — at the end of May, but that it was dead on arrival in the Senate, thanks to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“We passed the HEROES Act almost 145 days ago, which would have given aid to local and state governments that are in desperate need … and it’s been held up in the Senate by Mitch McConnell.”
Since the end of May, Republican and Democratic leadership have huddled numerous times to try and come to a deal for the bill, though all attempts to this point have been futile.
Richmond, who’s served in the House since 2011, highlighted this gridlock as a reason why he can make a bigger impact by working in the West Wing.
“Since I’ve been in Congress we’ve never had [control] of the House and the Senate,” he explained. “For the last two years, we’ve been in the majority in the House, but the Senate is run by Mitch McConnell. We’ve sent him hundreds and hundreds of bills that would help Louisiana and other places for them to just die on his desk.”
Richmond added: “It’s really about the community, so I have to step out and hope that over the next four years. I can make change that will last lifetimes or for generations. … A politician worries about the next election, a statesman worries about the next generation, so when I had to decide what I wanted to be, I decided I wanted to be a statesman.”
Richmond, who easily won reelection earlier this month, is the only the Black member of Louisiana’s House delegation and the only Democrat. He said during the press conference that he would resign his seat sometime before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 and a special election will be held to fill the seat.