Senate GOP Coronavirus Response Proposal Fails to Meet the Nation’s Needs

This press release was updated on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

Washington D.C., July 28, 2020—Yesterday, Senate Republicans unveiled their proposal for the next COVID-19 relief package—a proposal that fails to meet the dire needs of the nation, people with low incomes, and people of color amidst a devastating pandemic, economic crisis, and reckoning over rampant racial injustice. The Senate Republican proposal falls far short of the urgency of this moment, failing to meet the needs of people who are unemployed and in desperate need of health and economic supports, omitting the support state and local governments need to avoid devastating cuts, forcing  many—particularly essential workers—to risk their health or that of their families, and siding with business interests over those of people with low incomes. 

“The Republican proposal is woefully inadequate because it ignores the depth and scale of the crisis.  It fails to protect people’s health, economic security, and even their ability to feed their families and pay rent at a time of national crisis.  Its failures will continue to devastate essential workers, communities of color, families with low incomes, young people, and immigrant families and their children,” said Olivia Golden, CLASP’s executive director. “The proposal forces people to risk their health and their families’ health to meet basic needs. In this unprecedented national crisis, policymakers must do everything they can to protect the safety and wellbeing of the American people. Congress should move swiftly to enact a relief package that addresses the severity of this crisis.” 

The Senate proposal falls short in several areas: 

  • It slashes unemployment benefits for millions of workers and demands that states implement a new complex and unworkable temporary program within months.
  • The proposal does not include needed increases in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), rental assistance, or increased federal funds for Medicaid.  As a result, it fails to meet the basic needs—health, nutrition, housing—of millions at a time when a record number of people are unemployed, including a quarter of young adults aged 16-24
  • The bill also fails to provide paid leave for millions of workers who do not have access to it, making it harder for them to stay home when they or their loved ones are sick by forcing them to choose between their health and economic security. As schools begin online this fall, working families also need leave to care for children whose schools are operating virtually.
  • The proposal fails to support immigrants and their families—who have been left out of previous coronavirus response legislation. Immigrants without Social Security numbers and their families continue to be excluded from economic stimulus payments, including millions of U.S. citizen children.  
  • The bill provides $15 billion in child care funds, which is just a small fraction of the $50 billion the sector needs to survive the pandemic.
  • It lets employers off the hook for pandemic-related claims filed by workers concerned about violations of workplace rights, including those who need paid leave. This is particularly harmful for workers with low wages and workers of color who are a significant proportion of workers in essential jobs and at particular risk for COVID-19.
  • The proposal also fails to address the needs of millions of individuals impacted by the criminal justice system who have been disproportionately affected by the virus. The legislation doesn’t adequately address the health and safety of incarcerated people and does little to support the safe and effective reentry of those returning to their communities during the pandemic. 
  • The bill also overlooks the need of state and local governments for immediate resources to help people meet their basic needs as well as to prevent state cuts in critical infrastructure related to health, human services, and education. 
  • The bill fails to promote college access and affordability by denying critical investments and emergency aid to colleges and universities and students with low incomes, particularly students of color and immigrants, during this pandemic. 

Moreover, this proposal fails to respond to systemic racism that has created racial inequities, which are being exacerbated by the current pandemic. This is particularly unacceptable because communities of color have suffered from disproportionately high infection and death rates from coronavirus.

Congress must work with the greatest urgency to pass legislation that responds to the scale of the crisis now facing the nation’s working people, children, families, and communities, particularly people with low incomes and communities of color.  Failing to meet these needs will damage the nation’s future for a generation, as children go hungry, young people are unable to work or go to school, and states slash jobs and support.  

CLASP experts are available for comment on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and how the Senate Republican proposal would fail to support people with low incomes.