WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate last night passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill to address the global COVID-19 pandemic that has upended the social and economic lives of millions of Americans. While the bill provides important economic relief for families, the health care system, businesses and state and local governments, it does not go far enough to ensure protections and relief for individuals serving on the front lines of this crisis or those who will face the biggest economic hurdles.
The SPLC Action Fund issued the following statement by Interim President and CEO Karen Baynes-Dunning:
“While the Senate bill contains crucial relief to help the U.S. economy, it does not go far enough to support individuals and families who will be most affected by this national crisis. This illness doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. We urge congressional leaders to take additional steps in the coming days to develop policies that address the needs of all.”
Specifically, the bill does not:
- Include much-needed relief for immigrants who are serving on the front lines of this pandemic – stocking groceries, processing our food, cleaning our hospitals, providing care for our most vulnerable – all the while exposing themselves and their families to the coronavirus;
- Protect incarcerated people from the risk of infection, including releasing people who are being held solely because they can't pay bond; use compassionate release liberally and ensure everyone has access to hand washing and other sanitary supplies and adequate health care;
- Factor in the many people who work as independent contractors, gig workers and freelancers, as many states exclude people in this situation from workplace protections that cover employees;
- Add more sick days and paid family leave, even though they will almost certainly be needed for many who get sick or have family members who become ill;
- Provide sufficient financial resources so that states can ensure that students have access to school meals, distance learning resources, and health and mental health services, and instead, creates a pathway for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to waive important federal laws that protect students with disabilities and ensure equal educational opportunities for all students.