Senate Republicans Poised to Expose Americans to Preventable Hardship
Statement of CSPI Deputy Director of Federal Affairs Colin Schwartz
With the CARES Act’s increased unemployment benefits having run out, the country is teetering on the brink of an economic disaster. Even as those benefits expire, new jobless claims are over one million for the twentieth straight week.
Yet Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and most Senate Republicans seem content to dither while the rest of the country braces for the coming impact of their negligence.
It has proven hard enough for Americans to protect themselves and their families from becoming infected with COVID-19. These same families are now facing down a looming hunger crisis.
What’s maddening is that the Congress has a tool at its disposal that both alleviates hunger and stimulates the economy: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The House-passed HEROES Act increases benefits for SNAP recipients and protects access to the program for hungry families. It should be a no-brainer for the Senate to follow suit, yet their latest proposal ignored SNAP.
The decisions around opening or closing schools are frustrating for parents. The uncertainty is much more fraught for those families that depend on the school meals program for breakfast and lunch, whether schools themselves are open or closed. Yet even as these programs are buckling under new financial pressures, Senate Republicans seem oblivious.
And even as the country experiences on the order of 1,000 preventable deaths daily from the coronavirus, Senate Republicans seem uninterested in protecting vulnerable workers by requiring paid sick leave. Rather, the Senate’s last proposal had at its center a tired, perennial hobby horse—a liability shield that protects corporations from being sued over their own negligence.
August should be a time of beach trips and baseball and happy family gatherings. Some of those memories will not be made this summer due to the administration’s failure to respond to the pandemic. Instead, this summer will be remembered for the indifference, the posturing, and the casual cruelty of Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, and the grim and painful weeks that lie ahead.