Republican questions cost of more COVID relief

With the nation's debt rising, Republican congressional candidate Valerie Ramirez Mukherjee of Northbrook on Thursday questioned the cost efficiency of another federal COVID-19 relief package.

"All the stimulus that continues to be provided - where is that going to end? We're going to explode," Ramirez Mukherjee said during an online debate with Democratic incumbent Brad Schneider of Deerfield. "We have to figure out a way to grow ourselves out of this, to bring jobs back."

In stark contrast, Schneider said more federal relief for Americans struggling because of the coronavirus crisis is needed.

"The most immediate issue we face is beating back the coronavirus - beating this pandemic and getting people back to work, getting kids back to school and making sure our economies have a chance to thrive again," he said. "I know to do that we need to pass another relief bill."

That's why, Schneider said, he supported the Heroes Act, which the U.S. House passed in May but has yet to be debated in the Senate, and why he supported a modified version dubbed Heroes 2.0 that cleared the House last week.

The roughly 45-minute debate was hosted by several suburban chapters of the League of Women Voters.

Schneider is seeking a fourth term in the Nov. 3 election. Ramirez Mukherjee runs a family investment business and is making her first bid for public office.

Ramirez Mukherjee tried to attack Schneider's record as a legislator, saying few bills he originated have passed the House in the last two years and none have been signed into law.

Schneider, however, insisted 15 pieces of legislation he's championed have cleared the House, including one that did so last week, and several were part of the coronavirus relief law enacted in March.

But the session wasn't all acrimonious.

The candidates expressed similar stances on immigration reform, with both voicing support for deferring deportation for immigrants illegally brought here as children, as well as granting such immigrants conditional residency.

However, Schneider pointed out that Ramirez Mukherjee opposes a path to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally, something she noted in her Daily Herald candidate questionnaire.

Schneider supports creating a path to citizenship for such immigrants.

Schneider and Ramirez Mukherjee both reaffirmed their support of the Affordable Care Act. Although both candidates noted the law is flawed, they said it should be amended rather than repealed.

Ramirez admitted her support of the law is unusual for a Republican.

"I'm proud that our country was able to get it done," she said.

As he has before, Schneider said he'd like to see a government-run health insurance option added to the menu of plans available for Americans, and he said he backs legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston last year that would do just that.

Schneider and Ramirez Mukherjee also talked about voting rights, gun control and other issues.

The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.

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