Shutdown Averted, but Needed COVID-19 Relief Still Missing
Statement of CSPI Deputy Director of Federal Affairs Colin Schwartz
Funding the government is the most basic job for both the Senate and the House, so no one in Washington deserves credit for averting a government shutdown. But it is nonetheless laudable that the Continuing Resolution passed by the Senate today provides funding to accommodate the growing needs of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the school meals program.
Yet, critically, no one should mistake this measure for the comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that the country desperately needs.
The House of Representatives’ HEROES 2.0 proposal, released on Monday, comes much closer to meeting these needs by increasing the maximum benefit for SNAP by 15 percent and including $10 billion to cover increased SNAP participation. The new House proposal also allocates $3 billion to help schools and childcare providers recoup their costs for providing meals—an increasingly important source of sustenance for children during the pandemic. Congress should take this one step further and make universal free school meals the law of the land—simultaneously making it an easier program for school systems to administer, and freeing recipients from stigma.
More than 200,000 Americans are dead from COVID-19. Unemployment is north of 8 percent. Too many Americans are having to choose between buying food or paying rent. The scaled down version of the HEROES Act represents a good faith effort on the part of the House to attract bipartisan support in the Senate. The Senate must step up and reciprocate in good faith. Failing to do so will demonstrate its leaders’ continued neglect of—and even contribution to—the suffering of millions of Americans impacted by COVID-19 and its economic aftermath.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Richard Adcock (radcock[at]cspinet.org).