CHN to U.S. Senate: Without Action, Our Economy Will Sink into a Harsh and Prolonged Recession


March 20, 2020

On Monday, the Coalition on Human Needs sent a letter to all 100 U.S. Senators demanding that the next round of COVID-19 legislation – which is currently being negotiated – include policies that protect low- and moderate-income people from economic disaster and expand the ability of local and state governments, as well as front-line, nonprofit service providers, to address the nation’s emerging crisis.

The letter, signed by CHN Executive Director Deborah Weinstein, critiques a Republican proposal that was released on Thursday. “The bill either excludes or provides much less in direct cash payments to low-income people,” the letter states. “Specifically, some people with little income, who need help the most, would be limited to a $600 payment, instead of the $1,200 amount provided to others; some people would be excluded altogether.”

Weinstein adds that the bill potentially weakens paid leave, fails to adequately strengthen Medicaid, does not provide needed aid to states and localities, despite a burgeoning need, and does not adequately expand unemployment insurance or increase SNAP benefits.

All of these things, Weinstein notes, “have proven track records in providing the most effective boosts to a stalled economy. In contrast, the bill’s concentration of assistance to the airline and other industries is not sufficiently conditioned on protecting workers from layoffs and assuring decent pay, working conditions, benefits, and labor rights. Maintaining workers’ jobs and incomes is the primary engine of economic recovery when business aid is provided.”

In the letter, CHN lays out five elements that should be included in the next COVID-19 package:

  1. Direct income payments to individuals designed to reach those most in need.
  2. Improved use of proven ways to boost the economy: SNAP and unemployment insurance.
  3. Further support to vital systems providing care and services in states and localities.
  4. Urgent attention to preventing economic and health disasters for vulnerable people – including homeless people and those threatened with homelessness.
  5. Conditions applied to aid to businesses – including employers limiting layoffs, complying with health and safety guidelines for workers and contractors, providing a minimum wage of $15 an hour and paid leave, and allowing labor organizing.

Weinstein concludes by noting just what is at stake in the weeks and months ahead – not just for low- and moderate-income people and other vulnerable populations, but really for the entire country.

“Without an adequate response, illness will continue to spread, our institutions and businesses will remain shuttered, and our economy will sink into a harsh and prolonged recession,” she writes. “Forestalling these disastrous outcomes requires a massive expenditure of federal funds, and we cannot afford to waste any of it. That means assisting low- and moderate-income people, shoring up essential state and local services, and protecting workers.”

You can read the letter in its entirety here. To contact your members of Congress, click here.