“Skinny” Relief Plan Reflects Senate’s Continued Lack of Urgency
Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie
The American people have been waiting since May for the Senate to deliver relief that stops the spread of COVID-19, stimulates the economy, protects workers, and ameliorates a worsening hunger crisis.
On the day that the HEROES Act, which includes many such provisions, passed the House of Representatives, 84,000 Americans had perished from COVID-19.
In the days leading up to the passage of the HEROES Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bluntly admitted that the Senate didn’t “yet feel the urgency of acting immediately.”
In the intervening four months, more than 100,000 additional Americans have succumbed to the disease. And children and families around the country face truly unprecedented levels of hunger, businesses teeter on the edge or close, and evictions are taking place or are on the near horizon.
By sometime next week, it is reasonable to assume that a total of 200,000 may be dead: grandparents taken from their grandkids; parents taken from their children; even children taken from parents.
When the history of the pandemic is written it will first tell how badly the Trump administration bungled its early response to the virus. But history’s long lens will look equally unforgivingly on Senate Republicans, who stood idly by as the death toll mounted, as the economy cratered, and as the lines of our food banks stretched longer.
A July proposal from Senate Republicans failed to equal the HEROES Act by a long shot. The Senate “skinny” version circulating this week is a failure by a longer shot still, though no less cynical or unserious in approach.
The biggest of the coronavirus relief packages—the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—were not perfect, to be sure. Since then, the meaningful financial relief in the bills that helped millions of families avoid hunger has largely run out.
Is there no urgency still, Senator McConnell?