CHN’S COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship June 26
Looming Deadlines. The fourth of July recess is approaching, and Senate Majority Leader McConnell is still adamant that the Senate will not take up a COVID bill until they return on July 20, while the pandemic surges. That means most states will begin their fiscal years on July 1 without any assurance of more federal assistance for state or local governments, despite their already laying off 1.5m workers and cuts starting in three-quarters of America’s cities. Other deadlines: the extra $600 per week in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation expires by the end of July. Some senators have said they oppose extending this because it is higher than some workers’ previous pay, and so will be a disincentive for them to return to work. But new research cited below says that’s not what’s happening. In states where the UI benefits are the highest, total aggregate hours worked have risen the most since loss of work hit bottom in March/April. And the moratoria on evictions from federally subsidized or backed rental units will expire by the end of July; for units without federal protections, even sooner in some places. Ending the $600 Pandemic UI payment, letting the eviction moratorium expire and not enacting $100b in rental assistance will trigger an onslaught of evictions. As the number of COVID cases hit a new record, we saw that nearly half of households with children where someone had COVID-19 symptoms did not have enough to eat in the previous week. Failure to increase SNAP and provide more cash aid while the pandemic rages will unleash a surge in poverty prevented so far by the temporary assistance.
The Senate must join the House in enacting COVID recovery legislation similar to the House’s HEROES Act.