Harris, Yellen Talk Covid Relief With Black Chambers of Commerce Members

Date: 2021-02-05 21:36:06

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met Friday in a virtual forum with members of the Black Chambers of Commerce from across the country to push the administration’s COVID rescue plan and highlight its benefits for small, minority businesses.

Yellen told the group that Black and minority communities are always among the most adversely impacted by economic crises, and this pandemic crisis is no different.

“That is what economic crises do. They hit people of color harder and longer,” Yellen said. “And I’m worried that the current crisis will do this again. In fact, I know it will, unless we act.”

Yellen said Black Americans were the first to lose their jobs and small businesses during the early days of the pandemic and data shows they will be the last to be rehired.

“That’s why the American rescue plan is badly needed, to make sure that this pandemic isn’t another generational setback for racial equality,” she said.

Harris compared the current economic crisis to a hurricane that is “picking up speed.”

The remarks come as the Senate early Friday approved a measure that would let Democrats muscle President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan through the chamber without Republican support. Vice President Kamala Harris was in the chair to cast the tie-breaking vote, her first.

With a rising virus death toll and strained economy, the president’s goal is to have COVID-19 relief approved by March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid measures expire. Money for vaccine distributions, direct payments to households, school reopenings and business aid are at stake.

Yellen told the Black business leaders that the stimulus package is just the first step toward reconciling the nation’s economic inequality.

She said onve the “dark months” of the pandemic are past, the administration will present a recovery and jobs packages that address the “really long standing inequities that we’ve faced in this country.”
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