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04/24/2020 | Federal Advocacy: Fighting Back & Fighting Forward

House Leadership Commits to Progressive Relief Package

Majority Whip Clyburn notes: “I will tell you that the bill is already written,” and commits to a progressive agenda.

04.24.2020

WASHINGTON -- In a call with members of over a dozen progressive organizations, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and U.S. Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) committed to passing legislation through the House that puts people first. They listened as immigrant small business owners spoke about having to close up shop, frontline workers told stories of showing up at work without protective equipment, and people who lost their jobs spoke about being unable to pay rent.

Link to the full forum is available here.

When asked about the timeline for introduction for the next package, Clyburn said: “I can’t tell you when the bill will head to the floor, but I can tell you what we are working on to get in the bill. I will tell you that the bill is already written.” 

He indicated a number of priorities for the spending package, including: $65 billion for community health centers and $82 billion for 100 percent broadband across the country. He said that the $400 million for election protection from the CARES Act was insufficient, and that he would advocate for $1.8 billion for vote by mail in the next package, citing “I don’t think this President plans to have an election at all. He will do everything he can to circumvent people going to the polls in November.” He discussed resources to “restructure the health care system” and provide for widespread testing.

Jeffries said that the scale of the response should be directed to the people who have been hit the hardest, and noted that was the priority for “CARES 2.0,” which would originate in the House.

Ayanna Pressley said that we need a bill that puts people first, but noted the importance for public pressure for legislation to truly bail out the people. She committed to legislation that cancels student debt; cancels rent and mortgage for residential and commercial properties; provides direct cash assistance; and includes people regardless of immigration status. She added: “This is a matter of life and death and we need to act like it.” 

Tlaib discussed the disconnect between many of her peers in Congress and people who are living paycheck to paycheck, citing “our children don’t have lobbyists.” Tlaib discussed getting $2,000 per month to all people through a debit card, regardless of age and immigration status and for the duration of the crisis, and ensure that water is a human right. “We do more for corporations every single day. It’s time for us to do more for people.”

García acknowledged that he “reluctantly voted” for the bill yesterday because it provides money for small businesses and hospitals, and provides useful data, but admitted that it was not enough to provide support for the people who need it most. He noted the importance of funding for democracy in the next package, saying that funding for vote by mail should be expanded nationwide.

Democrats have received criticism from progressive groups for the most recent spending package, indicating that the relief packages thus far have left the country’s most vulnerable out. Despite the widespread pain across the country, Black and Latinx people are suffering and dying disproportionately. Immigrants, despite holding many frontline jobs, were cut out of all previous relief packages. 

The dozen progressive groups sponsoring the event held Clyburn, García, Jeffries, Tlaib and House Democrats to the following priorities:

1. Health is the top priority, for all people, with no exceptions

2. Economic relief must be provided directly to the people

3. Rescue workers and communities, not corporate executives. 

4. Make a downpayment on a regenerative economy while preventing future crises 

5. Protect our democratic process while protecting each other

Speakers shared their stories and made the case for each portion of the agenda.

 

Provide economic relief directly to people

Julissa Bisono, associate director of organizing at Make the Road New York

“My neighbors are dying. I get daily calls from neighbors and our members who have lost loved ones. Our organization, Make the Road New York, has lost more than 30 of our members, clients, and adult education students. Two weeks ago, I lost my uncle. The stimulus bills so far have excluded most of our members and my family members and neighbors. Because they’re undocumented, they cannot get the cash assistance, and they cannot get Unemployment Insurance. And the government has done nothing to cancel the rent or provide debt relief for anyone in our community.”

Jonny, a housekeeper and member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance

"As a housecleaner, I am an essential worker and have always been an essential worker. All domestic workers have always been essential, even before this pandemic. Our work makes all other work possible. We need direct cash assistance now."

Tabatha Yelós, People’s Action member and organizer with Ground Game Los Angeles

“I was one of the millions of Americans that did not pay rent in April and will be one of the millions of Americans that will not pay rent in May. My story, and the story of many of my neighbors, proves that by choosing to offer aid to employers and large corporations, the government has chosen to leave out too many Americans, including its own employees.”

Sara Castro, an organizer with Student Action’s Student Debt Campaign

“The full cancellation of student debt is not just a student issue, for the 43 million of us who need the relief now and is necessary for us to get through and recover from this crisis.”

 

Rescue workers and communities, not corporate executives

Zaid Consuegra Sauza, a DACA recipient and restaurant owner in Kansas City, Missouri

“COVID-19 came right before the spring, as most restaurants are dependent on strong earnings from Spring and Summer to secure a good fiscal year. Right now, our rent has been suspended, and we’re paying minimum payments on our utility bills to keep the accounts open. Unfortunately, I had to make the difficult decision to temporarily close, due to the loss of traffic. I'm personally not taking in any income, and I wasn’t  able to keep my crew on payroll. We gave out the perishable food to our employees. Now a month later I’m relying on friends, family and strangers to cover my necessities. Congress must pass federal aid that helps all people, including undocumented people like me, such as the Paycheck Guarantee Act. Programs like this would allow small businesses like mine to keep our employees on payroll, with 100% of the costs covered by grants from the federal government.”

Melissa Love, a Walmart warehouse worker and member of United for Respect

“Like so many other people who work on the frontlines at grocery stores, retail and warehouses, staying home and not working is not an option for me. I have to be face to face with the virus, by being around customers or associates who are unknowingly a carrier of the virus. This increases fear in not only me, but also in my associates,” said. “If  change is going to happen it needs to come from the company and from Congress, and above all, from all of us coming together to fight for it.” 

Ramona DeLoera, a farmworker and member of Justice for Migrant Women

“The farmworkers in my community are lining up at food banks and are being turned away because there is not enough food for everyone. But we see in the news and hear about farms throwing food away or letting them rot in the fields because they don’t have businesses to sell them to. I want Congress to include support for farmworkers in the next relief bill. We are risking our health and our lives to keep food on the tables and in grocery stores for other families across this country. And yet, we are struggling to feed our own families.”

 

Health is a top priority for all people, with no exceptions

Robert Laurence, an independent contractor and member of the Texas Organizing Project

“I don't know how I'll be able to pay my rent, car payment, my school debt, or the many other bills I have coming up. I am also considered high risk since I don't have money to be vaccinated or have treatment. We need healthcare coverage, cancelation of rent, debt, and an economic bailout for all the working families in America.” 

Noemi Romero, member of Puente Arizona and Mijente

“In 2013, I was detained at one of Arpaio’s work raids. I was detained in the county jail for two months and then transferred to Eloy Detention Center, where I was detained for another month. For this reason today I advocate for others still incarcerated and more than ever now with this pandemic going on. I’ve experienced the non-living conditions inside the old moldy walls, the cheap soap smaller than a travel size that does not lather. That is why today I ask our elected officials to take action and release our loved ones from these cages, they are one of the vulnerable communities.” 

Dalia Cruz, laboratory essential worker and member of CASA Pennsylvania

“Both my undocumented husband and myself are essential workers. We are both thankful to this land and the opportunity that we have been given in working and raising our children here but it is hard to keep working knowing that our lives are not being valued, nor respected. Every day, my husband and I have to decide to put not just our lives at risk but also our children’s. Every day we have to decide between our lives or food on our table. Every day we have to decide if all this effort is worth it when the message that we keep hearing from this administration is that we don’t belong here.”

 

Protect our democratic process, while protecting each other

Joe Maldonado, Councilmember from Fitchburg, Wisconsin and a member of the Working Families Party

“This should not be on the city of Fitchburg to look under the couch to find the resources to administer elections safely. We need the government to step in and make sure that cities and municipalities have fair elections.”

 

Make a downpayment on a regenerative economy while preventing future crises 

Dallas Goldtooth, a climate organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network

“The Navajo nation is one of the places hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. Congress needs to recognize that climate change and climate justice are central to this crisis. We need a regenerative economy in indigenous communities. We have to stop ignoring that the climate crisis is fueling the inequities in our society.”

Rev. Mike Atty, executive director of United Congregations of Metro-East, a partner of the Sierra Club

“The COVID-19 crisis has hurt our efforts to address climate change and the economic crises that worsen it. We need the federal government to invest in clean, green, equitable job creation in our communities.”

 

Ezra Levin, Co-Executive Director of the Indivisible Project 

"We are living through a time of national trauma that demands empathy and expertise and rapid response. We’ve got one party that controls the Presidency and Senate, with no compassion for human suffering and no basic competence. That’s why we need Democrats to fight back against this like they fought back against TrumpCare and the Trump Tax Scam in 2017. We helped build the largest midterm margins in American history in 2018 precisely to give Democrats power to negotiate in times like this."

The forum was sponsored by Be a Hero, Center for Popular Democracy, Community Change, Dream Defenders, Indivisible, Main Street Alliance, Mijente, MoveOn, National Domestic Workers Alliance, People’s Action, She the People, United for Respect, United We Dream and the Working Families Party. 

 

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Media Contact: Lia Weintraub, lweintraub@populardemocracy.org, 202-618-2482

 

 
Friday, April 24, 2020