As Senate Republicans unveil “skinny” relief package that protects large corporations and leaves hardworking Americans in the lurch, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing Congress to support families that were left out of the recently introduced bill. While the House passed the comprehensive HEROES Act in May, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed bringing a desperately needed relief package to the Senate floor. Now, the “skinny” bill that McConnell is attempting to pass protects big corporations but is woefully inadequate for American families. Among its many deficiencies: it fails to provide relief for state and local governments, reduces enhanced unemployment benefits, does not extend or strengthen the emergency paid leave provision, and ignores the growing hunger and housing crises.
“I’ve spent the summer talking to New Yorkers about what they are going through, and what McConnell has failed to realize is that the need for relief is profound. The fact that his proposal prioritizes blanket liability for corporations over the health and safety of the working people who are keeping this country running is insulting,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Hardworking Americans have lost their jobs, they’re facing evictions and food insecurity, and they’re struggling to figure out how to obtain child care when they return to work. McConnell must stop dragging his feet while Americans are in dire need. It’s urgent that the Senate pass a comprehensive relief package that will address these unprecedented challenges and I will continue fighting to include these crucial proposals.”
McConnell’s inaction comes as COVID-19 cases continue to spread, enhanced unemployment benefits have lapsed, and millions of New Yorkers and Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet, put food on the table, return to work and school, pay their rent, and more. Additionally, New Yorkers returning to work are burdened by a growing child care crisis and reduced services from their local and state governments, which are in the midst of budget crises.
There are nearly 30 million Americans out of work, yet instead of supporting those who have lost their jobs and protecting the health and safety for those who are working, McConnell’s bill prioritizes blanket liability for corporations. Gillibrand has repeatedly called on leadership to renew the $600 per week unemployment benefit and include the Protecting Renters from Evictions and Fees Act of 2020 to expand the nation-wide moratorium on evictions for housing through March of next year so that renters who are unable to make payments are protected from immediate displacement.
Senator Gillibrand has spent the summer crisscrossing New York and fighting to prioritize the needs of New Yorkers in the next relief package. As people have lost jobs, food banks in New York are experiencing unprecedented demand. Gillibrand has traveled to New York City’s five boroughs to highlight this need and visited food banks in Chautauqua, Oneida, and Chemung counties. She is calling for an extension of the P-EBT program — which helped nearly 3.5 million children avoid going hungry this summer — and for expanded SNAP benefits in the next coronavirus relief package.
While Republicans are proposing to do little to address the child care crisis that families are facing as businesses reopen, Gillibrand has stood with local leaders in Troy, Poughkeepsie, Ithaca, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse to call for the inclusion of a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund that would provide grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the child care sector and support providers as they safely reopen and operate.
Finally, cash-strapped state and local governments are struggling with slashed revenues and skyrocketing costs. State and local leaders in New York have voiced grave concerns about massive budget shortfalls and impending cuts to essential services and jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis. Senator Gillibrand has traveled across New York and stood with leaders in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Glens Falls, Watertown, Long Island, Binghamton and Plattsburgh to call for the Direct Support for Communities Act that would provide local governments with direct federal relief that can be used to alleviate the $240 billion in revenue that New York is projected to lose. Gillibrand has also called for funding for testing, telehealth and community-based health services as COVID-19 cases have continued to rise during the summer months.