CHN to Senate: ‘Not only is our income at risk, but our lives’


March 13, 2020

Update: On Wednesday, March 18, the Senate passed and President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

On Friday, March 13, the Coalition on Human Needs sent a letter to all 100 Senators urging passage of comprehensive legislation to address the COVID-19 disease outbreak. In a related move, CHN also urged its supporters to call their senators and demand passage.

The letter, signed by CHN Executive Director Deborah Weinstein, states that passage of the legislation “will be a step towards putting the needs of low-income and vulnerable people first.” But it warns that even with swift passage of pending legislation, a more “fully adequate response” will be needed very soon.

“In the Great Recession, we learned conclusively that providing income support to low-income people through SNAP and unemployment insurance and providing more Medicaid funding to states were the most effective ways to re-start the economy while offering vital protections to the people who need it most,” the letter states. “All of that applies in this crisis, and more so:  not only is our income at risk, but our lives.

The letter reminds senators that “we cannot protect some of us without protecting all, including low-income people, the uninsured, immigrants, and people experiencing homelessness, with disabilities, and in detention or jails, as well as children, older Americans, and the people who provide their care.”

As of this writing, it appears that President Trump is delaying an agreement that would get a bill to Congress by demanding a payroll tax cut. The letter opposes this, because it is not well-targeted to those most in need, and would not be the best economic stimulus either. Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have spent long hours negotiating; we believe that the Administration has already gotten concessions that will make the bill less helpful. It would be unconscionable to hold the bill up over the President’s additional wrong-headed demands.

The letter includes a comprehensive list of recommended “urgent actions for the coronavirus emergency;” these actions cover emergency sick leave, unemployment insurance, more Medicaid funding, free testing and affordable treatment, protections for health care and other workers, nutrition assistance, protections for immigrants, more funding for child care, protections for people with disabilities, the elderly, and people experiencing homelessness; and protections for people in “congregate settings,” including mental health facilities, homeless shelters, nursing homes, prisons, jails, juvenile detention and immigrant detention sites.

You can see a complete list of CHN’s recommendations here.

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