Lori Trahan says new coronavirus relief package will bring millions of dollars to region

Lori Trahan – Photo:  SUN/Scot Langdon
Lori Trahan – Photo: SUN/Scot Langdon

LOWELL – As federal lawmakers were preparing to vote on President Biden’s coronavirus relief package this week, U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan told local administrators and business leaders on Wednesday that the plan will bring millions of dollars in aid to the region.

“It is a huge package and it’s one that meets the scale of this moment,” Trahan said. “It’s so important that we move quickly, so much of this aid is long overdue. We have to make sure that we’re continuing to do everything we can to crush this virus and then finally move to economic recovery.”

Trahan’s comments came during a morning Zoom call organized by the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce and the Middlesex 3 Coalition.

According to Trahan, Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan includes $350 billion for state and local governments, approximately $8.2 billion of which would go to Massachusetts.

“I estimate that the city of Lowell would receive $50 million, Chelmsford and Dracut would each receive about $6 million, and Westford would receive between $4.5 million and $5 million,” Trahan said, adding that the funds would need to be used to address the pandemic or its negative economic impacts.

“State and local aid have long been a priority and that is finally here, we’re going to pass it in this next version,” Trahan said.

In addition, Trahan said that the relief plan would send approximately $1.7 billion to the state to help K-12 schools reopen safely and address lost time in the classroom.

Of that, she estimated that Lowell schools would receive more than $50 million, Chelmsford schools would receive about $1.5 million and Dracut schools would receive about $4.5 million.

“Despite the progress that we’re making in defeating the virus, life will not return to anything that feels like normal again until our kids are back in school,” she said. “I have 6-and 10-year-old daughters, they’ve been out of school for a year. I want them back in school, trust me.”

As for why it has taken so long to get this kind of aid to the Commonwealth, Trahan blamed former President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans for standing in the way.

“The last administration basically refused to provide any additional state and local aid in the end of the year package, and that reckless approach was fully backed by then-Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who suggested at one point that we should just let the states go bankrupt,” Trahan said. “I can assure you that President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic caucus recognize how vital this assistance is.”

Trahan also gave local administrators and business leaders more general details on what would be included in the relief package, such as $25 billion for restaurant assistance, $40 billion for our colleges and universities and $39 billion for the child care sector.

The bill would also provide $1,400 payments to millions of low- and middle-income people, increase child tax credits and offer extra $400 weekly federal unemployment benefits through August.