Congresswoman Cindy Axne of West Des Moines, a Democrat, says now that the campaign is over, the current Congress should act before year’s end to provide another round of assistance to help individuals and businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
“It’s just a really difficult time for way too many people,” she says, “and we’ve got to get this done.”
Axne says it’s been more than seven months since Congress passed the so-called CARES Act and most of the money has been spent. Axne says Congress should provide more federal money for hospitals, health care workers, and small businesses — as well as more assistance to low-income Americans with overdue utility bills who are at risk of losing heat and electricity during the winter. The temporary spending plan for the entire federal government is set to expire next month as well.
“We’ve got to make sure that we keep the government open and pass a budget,” Axne says. “That’s just a basic that needs to get done, but we need to make sure there are things in there.”
For example, Axne says congress must ensure parents can carry over any unused money they’d put aside in flexible savings accounts for child care expenses. The money in traditional pre-tax savings plans for medical and other expenses must be used by year’s end — or individuals forfeit that money. Axne says due to the pandemic, many parents weren’t able to find child care — and they stand to lose the money they’d saved to cover those expenses.
“There’s just a lot we need to do in a budget, given the fact where we’re at with Covid,” Axne says.
Axne, who represents Iowa’s third congressional district, was re-elected to a second term in the U.S. House last week.