March 26, 2020

AUDIO: Udall Hosts Press Call on Senate-Passed COVID-19 Relief for New Mexico

Udall highlights the relief for New Mexico and Tribes in $2 trillion congressional package, passed yesterday

AUDIO: Udall Holds Press Conference Call on Senate-Passed COVID-19 Relief for New Mexico.

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) hosted a press conference call with New Mexico reporters to discuss the $2 trillion congressional COVID-19 relief bill that passed the Senate last night by a 96-0 vote. Udall discussed how the relief will benefit New Mexicans and Native communities.

The $2 trillion package includes key provisions to support New Mexico, including: direct payments to individual New Mexicans and a major expansion of unemployment benefits, badly-needed direct relief for small businesses, an emergency infusion of resources into hospitals and to support health care workers, reimbursement for state governments like New Mexico that have stepped up to address the crisis, and critical resources for Tribes and vulnerable Native communities. 

This is a very difficult time for New Mexico and the nation. New Mexico has reported our first death from COVID-19. My heart goes out to this New Mexican’s family. And to all those in New Mexico and across the country who are grappling with the health and economic pain caused by this pandemic,” Udall said. “Last night, the Senate passed a major emergency relief package to give badly-needed support to New Mexicans navigating this crisis. This bill was the product of tough negotiations. I’m proud that we fought hard and stayed at the negotiating table – and ultimately produced a much better bill. A bill that will provide support to workers, hospitals, small businesses, state governments, and Tribes.”

Udall continued, “While this is a major and important step forward, it can’t be the end of our work. I know New Mexicans are worried about their health. The health of their families. Their ability to pay the bills and put food on the table… We’re all worried how long this will last, and what the impacts on our healthcare system and our people will be. But I am inspired by what I see our communities doing and I won’t stop fighting for New Mexico. We will get through this crisis – together.”

For a comprehensive list of the actions Udall has taken to improve and expand the federal response to coronavirus, please click HERE.

Listen to the audio HERE. 

Below are Udall’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

0:00 Thank you so much for joining me today.

0:04 This is a very difficult time for New Mexico and the nation. New Mexico has reported our first death from COVID-19.

0:15 My heart goes out to this New Mexican’s family. And to all those in New Mexico and across the country who are grappling with the health and economic pain caused by this pandemic.

0:28 And I know many reporters and staff in newsrooms in New Mexico are facing difficult times as well. Newsrooms are being forced to make impossible decisions. The work you do as reporters is essential – especially in times of crisis – and I can’t tell you how grateful we are for your reporting.

0:50 Today, I have good news from Washington. Last night, the Senate passed a major emergency relief package to give badly-needed support to New Mexicans navigating this crisis.

1:02 This bill was the product of tough negotiations. I’m proud that we fought hard and stayed at the negotiating table – and ultimately produced a much better bill. A bill that will provide support to: workers, hospitals, small businesses, state governments, and Tribes. 

The bill:

1:23 Drastically expands unemployment insurance – an extra $600 per week for four months – and makes direct payments to New Mexicans of $1,200 per person and $500 per child.

1:48 The bill will infuses $150 billion dollars into our health care system and provides support to front line health care workers.

1:54 Provides up to $10 million dollars each in “payment protection” loans for small businesses – which can be converted into grants if employees are kept on payroll.

2:08 Provides more than $10 billion for Tribes – in the form of reimbursement for pandemic related costs and funding for the Indian Healthcare Service and other essential needs. 

2:21 I’m particularly proud of the work my staff and I did as vice chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee to improve this bill.

2:33 The bill makes sure contractors at our national labs get paid leave if they can’t do their jobs remotely.

2:40 And the bill will mean New Mexico and it’s local governments can get up to $1.25 billion dollars to reimburse costs stemming from the pandemic.

2:51 It’s a big bill – and there’s a lot more to it. But those are some of the highlights.

2:57 While this is an major and important step forward, it can’t be the end of our work.

3:02 I know New Mexicans are worried about their health. The health of their families. Their ability to pay the bills and put food on the table. Our state is doing the right thing—major social distancing to stop the spread of this virus.

3:19 I said on the floor yesterday it’s like a creating a firebreak in front of a raging wildfire—we need to act fast to prevent a catastrophic situation that would happen if this spreads unchecked.

3:35 We’re all worried how long this will last, and what the impacts on our healthcare system and our people will be. 

3:45 But I am inspired by what I see our communities doing and I won’t stop fighting for New Mexico. We will get through this crisis – together. 

4:02 Udall takes questions.