MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito indicated she’s about 95 percent sure new Covid 19 relief legislation will be hammered out this week in Congress. She said the framework is starting to become something both sides are finding reasonable and more and more members are getting on board.
Speaking on MetroNews Talkline Wednesday, Capito said this was much needed and it will provide help to many who have so far been treading water and trying to stay alive through the pandemic.
“This is going to be targeted relief and it’s the emergency funding we really need, particularly for restaurants, our live venues, visitors bureaus. Some of those folks were left out of the first tranche of assistance, they are now a part of this,” she said.
The Senator noted there were several parts of the framework which were extremely important to West Virginia. Among them was the extension of a deadline for states to spend money allocated in the original CARES Act. Governor Jim Justice has $764,887,779 at his disposal according to the West Virginia Auditor’s office. Much of which is allocated for Covid related expenses, but so far has not been spent. Presently the deadline looming is December 3oth.
“He’s going to have a lot more impetus to keep moving forward on this. I think he’s been waiting for us to open the window so he can replace lost tax revenue and he’s going to have the flexibility to do that. Honestly I think he’s doing it the right way,” Capito said of how Justice has handled West Virginia’s portion of the funds.
But the slow spending of the money has drawn fire from political opponents who believe the Governor could have done more to relieve the burdens on many West Virginians who’ve lost their jobs or businesses and otherwise been suffering through the downturn caused by the virus.
“Extending the deadline to the end of 2021 is definitely in there regardless of which bill passes. It’s in both bills.” she said.
The new framework, according to Capito, will also included more flexibility in spending for education related expenses like testing or technology for students working in home bound status and in virtual classrooms. She said more money for a wider deployment of broadband service in rural West Virginia will also be part of the package. There will also be additional funding for substance abuse treatment according to Capito.
“I 9.5 out of 10 sure we’re going to get a bill. I can read the tea leaves pretty well and I know we’re going to have a bill, whether it passes or not I’m about a 9 on that, but I’m going to be for it,” she said.