WEEK IN REVIEW: Sen. Ossoff Working Hard to Deliver COVID-19 Relief for Georgians

Washington, D.C. — Just two weeks into his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Senator Jon Ossoff is hard at work to deliver Georgians the COVID-19 relief they need and deserve.

Early this morning, as he’s been emphasizing the need to “go big” and “move swiftly” on a COVID relief package, Ossoff helped pass the historic budget resolution that paves the way for President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan,” which will secure massive investment in vaccine distribution, stimulus checks and tax rebates for Georgia families, as well as support for vital local services across Georgia like public education and public safety.

Ossoff is also championing several measures to help Georgians suffering during this COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Supporting smaller Georgia communities. Ossoff co-sponsored the “Direct Support for Communities Act” to ensure smaller- and medium-sized cities across Georgia receive direct federal funding to maintain key public services like public health and safety.
  • Helping Georgians pay utility bills during the pandemic. Ossoff joined fellow Georgia Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock and others to request more funding for Georgians struggling to pay utility bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
  • Requesting support for Georgians experiencing homelessness. Ossoff and his fellow Senators sent a letter to Secretary Yellen and the Treasury Department asking them to ensure Georgians experiencing homelessness receive the financial support they deserve.
  • Student loan debt relief. Ossoff also called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt relief to alleviate the challenges young Georgians are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about Sen. Ossoff’s efforts to deliver support to Georgians:

11ALIVE NEWS ATLANTA: ‘Georgia voters made this possible’: State’s impact felt as Senate takes step toward COVID relief

  • The Senate debated through the night and into the early morning Friday to get the resolution passed on a 50-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaker vote at about 5:30 a.m.
  • After the marathon vote concluded, Sen. Ossoff tweeted: “And with Vice President @KamalaHarris casting the crucial tie-breaking vote, at 5:30am after 14 hours of debate, the Senate has passed a $1.9 trillion budget for COVID relief. Georgia voters made this possible.”
  • Without Ossoff’s and Warnock’s victories in Georgia’s January Senate runoffs, Democrats would not have had the numbers Friday to hand the tiebreaker vote to Vice President Harris.

VALDOSTA DAILY TIMES/CNHI: New in town, Ossoff focuses on bolstering COVID relief

  • The 33-year-old Ossoff told CNHI his top priorities are increasing federal allotments of vaccine doses to states, rushing stimulus checks into the pockets of Americans and dedicating more dollars to smaller cities and towns that have been previously left behind in bailout efforts.
  • “We need to move swiftly to pass COVID relief with this Senate Majority,” Ossoff said. “And we need to be bold in delivering the level of relief that families and small businesses and local communities need to survive during this crisis.”
  • “I am working intensively within the Senate, urging inclusion in this COVID relief bill of direct relief for smaller communities like Valdosta, Americus, Thomasville and Milledgeville,” he told CNHI. “So that local mayors, local police departments, local fire departments, local school systems, local health systems are getting the direct federal support they need to keep serving Georgians and save jobs.”

WGXA MACON: Senator Ossoff pushes Senate to pass COVID relief for Georgia municipalities

  • U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is urging Senate passage of direct relief for Georgia’s small- and medium-sized cities, towns, and counties, following discussions with local leaders who reported that prior COVID-19 relief legislation had neglected smaller localities.
  • Since taking office on January 20, Sen. Ossoff has spoken with local leaders across the state about their communities’ most urgent needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • According to the newly elected Senator, Mayors consistently urge him to fight for budgetary support for localities, whose provision of public services like public safety, fire, and public health is at risk during the crisis.
  • Responding to those local concerns, Ossoff is urging inclusion in the upcoming COVID-19 relief bill of the “Direct Support for Communities Act” legislation he has co-sponsored, which would deliver direct federal assistance to smaller cities, towns, villages, and counties.
  • Senator Osoff affirmed, “As I’ve spoken with mayors and local leaders across Georgia, it’s clear that Georgia’s smaller cities, counties, towns, and rural communities have not received the federal support they need and deserve. I am fighting for funding to sustain local services and save jobs across Georgia, and will keep communities updated of progress as I fight for inclusion of funding for local communities in upcoming COVID relief legislation.”

WTOC SAVANNAH: Sen. Ossoff talks COVID relief, direct aid for GA cities, towns

  • Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff has been on the job for 12 days now, and says he’s pushing hard to get smaller and medium-sized cities and towns help in this new COVID relief bill.
  • “I’m pushing for the Senate to move swiftly to pass the COVID relief legislation that Georgia needs,” Sen. Ossoff says.
  • Senator Ossoff says his priority in that bill is getting direct federal assistance to Georgia’s small and medium sized cities and towns, like Savannah and surrounding areas.
  • Cities, towns, and counties with populations under 500,000 were eligible for relief from the CARES Act, but only from their states’ allocation.
  • Ossoff is pushing legislation he says will help get federal aid directly to those communities.
  • “This economic crisis means that tax revenues have declined, so local communities are having to cut vital public services: public safety, public health, infrastructure maintenance. This includes, by the way, vaccine distribution,” Ossoff says. “So it’s really important the federal government direct resources not just to the biggest cities in the country, but also to smaller cities like Savannah which need to support those vital local public services and save jobs right now.”

WJBF AUGUSTA: Senator Ossoff sponsoring bill to help smaller cities in Georgia receive COVID relief

  • Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff is pushing for new legislation to get COVID relief for smaller cities in the peach state.
  • Ossoff wants the U.S. Senate to allocate funds, all part of the larger COVID relief bill, which should be out in the next few weeks.
  • “Augusta, Columbus, Savannah need that direct help and helps the local health infrastructure with vaccine distribution. We have to make sure our smaller cities are included and that’s my top priority in the last week at the senate.”
  • Ossoff said he spoke to many mayors and local leaders across Georgia, and that’s why he wants federal funds distributed to other cities in Georgia, not just metro Atlanta.
  • “These last few days that Augusta, Columbus and Savannah and small cities are included in this relief and all the help just doesn’t go to the biggest cities in the country.”
  • He says the funds would help towns to save jobs, improve public safety, help with education and provide relief with covid recovery efforts.

WJCL SAVANNAH: Savannah mayor hopeful for more COVID-19 relief after speaking with Georgia’s new senators

  • Last year’s relief bills allocated funds directly to cities with populations larger than half a million, the rest going to state governments to divvy out. After a miscommunication between Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, some elected officials are trying to cut out the middleman.
  • We know how to take care of our citizens and our businesses and we want to opportunity to do that so therefore we want the opportunity to converse directly with the federal government,” the mayor said.
  • The liaison between the two being Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
  • “I called Mayor Johnson and other local leaders across Georgia and said what do you need in this upcoming COVID relief bill because that’s my job,” Senator Ossoff said. “What I heard consistently was that last year’s COVID relief bill did not provide the support that smaller cities, localities, towns and counties need.”

CBS46 ATLANTA: Sen. Ossoff, colleagues to introduce plan to cancel $50,000 of student loans

  • Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, along with his Senate and House colleagues, introduced a resolution Thursday calling on President Biden to broadly cancel thousands of federal student loan debt. 
  • The two-chambered resolution calls on Biden to use his executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower. 
  • “The burden of student debt is crushing young Georgians and damaging our economy,” said Senator Ossoff.
  • “I applaud the President’s suspension of federal student loan debt payments and interest through September, and we are calling on him to go further and use his authority to cancel up to $50,000 of federal student debt per individual, delivering the permanent student loan debt relief millions of Georgians and our economy desperately need,”Ossoff added. 
  • According to a press release, research shows that broad student debt cancellation would boost our struggling economy through a consumer-driven stimulus and help close racial wealth gaps.

WABE ATLANTA: Georgia Senators Push For More Help For People Struggling With Utility Bills

  • Georgia’s senators are among a group urging for the next pandemic relief package to include more help for people struggling to pay their electric bills.
  • U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff signed onto a letter — with more than 40 other senators — to Senate leaders asking for more funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, a program that helps people pay their utility bills.
  • “Across the nation, utilities are reporting significant increases in the number of families falling behind on their utility bills,” the senators wrote. “The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association estimates that 15 to 20 percent of residential customers are at least 60 days behind on their electric and natural gas bills.”
  • The group of senators says states have already allocated the extra funding for the program that came from the first pandemic relief bill, and they say states need another $10 billion. The $1.9 trillion relief plan President Joe Biden called for last month included $5 billion in energy and water bill assistance.
  • “LIHEAP assistance is an indispensable lifeline, helping to ensure that recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and affording other necessities like food and medicine,” the senators wrote.

WGXA MACON: Georgia’s Senators raise efforts to ensure all eligible Georgians receive COVID-19 relief 

  • Newly elected Georgia Senators Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are pushing the Department of Treasury to ensure all eligible Georgians receive COVID-19 relief, including those who are homeless. 
  • The Senators joined 27 other Senate colleagues in asking the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to commit to conducting outreach to all populations to make sure people are aware of their potential eligibility and can sign up for, and receive, the payments.
  • Senators Ossoff and Warnock and their colleagues are urging the Treasury Department to take the following steps:
  1. Publish specific procedures for how those without a permanent address, government issued identification, or bank account can access their payment;
  2. Expand guidance for non-filers and provide additional options for people to claim their payments. As many people experiencing homelessness have limited or no access to internet, a website where non-filers can register is insufficient; and
  3. Work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to conduct outreach to local Continuums of Care and social service organizations.

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