New Mexico could receive $9 billion from COVID relief bill

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The $1.9 trillion American relief package includes $1,400 checks for most Americans, extended unemployment benefits, expanded child tax credits and billions of dollars for states.

It passed in the U.S. House and Senate with no Republican support.

"It’s the beginning of the end for this pandemic. And it’s the beginning of a return to something that’s going to feel a lot more like normal than what we’ve been living through for the last year," said Sen. Martin Heinrich, who voted for the package.

Officials are still crunching the numbers, but they estimate New Mexico could receive $9 billion.

Rep. Yvette Herrell did not support the bill.

She claims the money will be used to bail out "states and cities that imposed arbitrary and scientifically questionable lockdowns."

Sen. Ben Ray Lujan disputes Herrell’s assertions.

"Republicans would have you believe that this help is going to people who don’t need it," Lujan said. "And I’m so disappointed that none of our Republican colleagues in the House or in the Senate voted for it."

New Mexico is also in line to get $1.2 billion for local school districts to help pay for things like sick leave and outdoor classrooms. Districts can also use it to hire more nurses or counselors.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be responsible for spending.

"We have the ability to go back to work," she said. "We can lift women out of poverty. Women were hit hardest, women-owned businesses. There isn’t a single sector of New Mexico’s economy, not a single working family who isn’t going to benefit."

President Joe Biden plans to sign the bill Friday.