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Dear Colleague: Update on Coronavirus Relief Negotiations

Dear Democratic Colleague,

Twelve weeks ago today, we passed The Heroes Act to honor our heroes, to safely re-open our economy and schools by defeating the virus and to put money in the pockets of the American people.  But Mitch McConnell pushed the pause button – waiting until last week to come forward with inadequate, piecemeal legislation, which would only prolong Americans’ suffering.

Since the passage of The Heroes Act, while Republicans insisted on their pause, 3.5 million more Americans were infected by the coronavirus and 70,000 more have died.

In the past two weeks of negotiations, we have strived mightily to find common ground.  However, many critical differences remain.

Lives:

  • Defeating the Virus: It is clear that the only way we are going to end the economic crisis in our country is to defeat the virus.  In The Heroes Act, there are significant resources for testing, tracing and treatment.  The Senate bill has $15 billion and we have $75 billion.  We absolutely need to find common ground in this area, especially as it relates to communities of color who have disproportionately suffered from infections and deaths.

Livelihoods:

  • Honoring Our Heroes: Democrats have fought to protect heroes in state and local government who have risked their lives to save lives and now may lose their jobs, by providing $915 billion in desperately needed funds.  Republicans have offered only $150 billion, which would guarantee mass layoffs of health care workers, first responders, transit workers, sanitation and food workers and teachers.
  • Safe Schools: We are a couple hundred billion dollars apart on the amount of money needed for schools, and Republicans want the education money to only go to schools opening in-person.  Meanwhile, school districts across the country are overwhelmingly announcing that they can only open virtually or hybrid.
  • Housing Insecurity: Millions of families are on the verge of eviction.  While the President may issue an eviction moratorium, without money it is grossly insufficient for renters and their landlords – who will only see their debts rise higher and their housing insecurity intensify.
  • Food Insecurity: Another critical difference in our bills is that we have $67 billion for food, water and utility assistance, while Leader McConnell provides only $250,000 for food.
  • For the Children: Children should not be hungry, homeless or afraid to go back to school – and if at home, we must provide sufficient childcare.  In addition, Republicans are insisting on keeping their CARES Act $135 billion tax break for the wealthiest, while rejecting funds for the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit, which are so necessary at this time.

The Life of Our Democracy:

  • Postal Service, Census, Voting: Central to the life of our democracy is support for the Postal Service, the integrity of the census and the protection of our voting system.  While we hope to make some progress in the Postal Service, much more needs to be done regarding the census and voting.

When we passed the CARES Act at the end of March, it was hoped that the Administration would take seriously the spread of the virus and respect science to end it.  Instead, the Administration’s failure has enabled the virus to pick up steam.  It is coming like a freight train, and the GOP response is like a convoy going only as fast as the slowest ship. 

In our discussions, Republicans’ have demonstrated their disdain for working families, but we must find common ground for the children.

Thank you for your leadership. 

best regards,

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