Florida Democrat says vaccines, masks are key to small-business recovery

Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles Florida Democrat says vaccines, masks are key to small-business recovery DNC members grow frustrated over increasing White House influence MORE (D-Fla.) said Tuesday that adherence to public health guidance and increased vaccination rates are needed to keep small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to get a handle on this virus, and we have to make sure more people are vaccinated and we have to make sure that we still engage in those all-important social distancing, mask wearing and public health guidelines," Wasserman Schultz said at The Hill’s “Small Business Recovery: Miami” event.

Speaking with The Hill’s Steve Clemons, the nine-term lawmaker said small businesses in her South Florida district, an area heavily reliant on tourism, are still being “dramatically impacted” by the pandemic but have been aided by federal funds provided through President BidenJoe BidenFighter jet escorts aircraft that entered restricted airspace during UN gathering Julian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp MORE’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

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She also touted Democrats’ sweeping $3.5 trillion reconciliation package and its permanent expansion of the child tax credit as benefiting small businesses.

“These are the working poor who need those funds to be able to climb out,” she said. “And those are the folks that we need to make sure these small businesses have the ability to hire.”

But Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), who also spoke at Tuesday’s virtual event, said Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan is “way too much."

“We are spending way beyond our means, and so that’s going to be very problematic on the budget side,” he said at the event, sponsored by Wells Fargo.

Gimenez, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said traditional infrastructure funding is needed to improve bridges and roads, while adding that the government should also focus on incentivizing companies to return to the United States.

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"How do we invest and try to incentivize companies to come back to the United States, especially those companies that are critical in creating the supply chain that we’ve seen has really been disrupted by this pandemic?" he said.

Gimenez went on to argue that federal unemployment benefits put in place during the pandemic created a “tough time” for small businesses looking for workers in recent months. Those benefits expired last week.

“As these unemployment benefits start to ease and wane and go away, I would expect that more and more of those that are staying at home are going to come back to work,” Gimenez said.