With deadlines approaching, CHN urges swift passage of COVID-19 relief
The Coalition on Human Needs this week urged Congress to quickly approve a COVID-19 relief package, even as millions of Americans face the loss of unemployment benefits as well as a roof over their heads.
The letter, sent to every member of Congress and signed by CHN Executive Director Deborah Weinstein, calls on members to agree “at least to a down payment on the coronavirus relief that is needed.”
“This cannot wait,” the letter states. “The eviction moratorium and pandemic unemployment insurance expire by the end of December. COVID-19 cases are surging, with more than 200,000 cases reported on December 2 and hospitals dangerously overstretched.”
The letter references an initial proposed package of relief measures and suggests further improvements. Among them:
- Reinstating weekly Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments and increasing them beyond the $300/week proposed in a bipartisan package ($600/week payments expired in July) as well as extending Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides help to gig and self-employed workers who are ineligible for state aid. That aid is set to expire on Dec. 26.
- Extending and improving the national moratorium on evictions, which is set to end on Dec. 31, as well as providing direct aid to low-income renters.
- A “lookback provision” for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, providing families with the option to use either their 2019 or 2020 earnings to calculate their 2020 tax credits. This will target assistance to families with low/moderate incomes whose earnings declined due to the pandemic.
- Fiscal relief for states, localities, territories, and tribes supporting education and preventing cuts in public health, safety and government services at all levels.
- Nutrition assistance to states, territories and tribes to stave off direct and immediate hunger.
The letter includes other recommendations: extending emergency family and medical leave and paid sick leave, set to expire on Dec. 31; extending deadlines for the Census Bureau’s transmission of 2020 Census data for purposes of apportionment and later re-districting; and opposing immunity for businesses from COVID-related liability claims.
“This package will not be all that is needed,” CHN’s letter concludes. “But it will prevent the added devastation of expiring unemployment benefits, lost eviction and student debt protections, and continued loss of earnings from overtaking millions of families at year’s end. It will enable medical treatment and vaccine distribution we so urgently need. Congressional inaction in the face of this would harshly worsen our national emergency. We are counting on you to prevent that by working to improve and voting for COVID emergency relief.”
You can view a copy of the letter here.