By Ann G. Daniels
Deadline: This minute –
Congress is working right now to pass much-needed relief for everyone suffering during – and because of – the coronavirus. But there’s a problem: although events are in flux, as of this writing there’s one bill in the Democratic-controlled House, and a different bill in the Republican-controlled Senate, and one of them aims to protect people while the other one protects mainly big corporations.
The House bill may not go far enough, but the Democrats have been trying to give financial relief to everyone in the country who needs it and fight the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Money for rent, food, and medical bills and debt relief
- Money for scarce medical equipment
- Testing and treatment for all, regardless of immigration status
- Paid sick leave and expanded unemployment insurance
- Expansion of safe access to voting by mail by giving grants to states to expand early voting
- An independent inspector general to provide oversight of how the money is spent.
Guess what the GOP Senate bill, S.3548 CARES Act, does? Basically, it’s big breaks for big corporations, including:
- Most business loans go to large companies, rather than small ones. None go to non-profits or organizations supporting people in need.
- No job protection, and only limited requirements that businesses rehire workers after the loans are paid back.
- Businesses are not required to provide sick leave for part-time workers
- Very limited oversight over how the money is spent (less than in the 2008 crisis). The only oversight provided for is the discretion of the Treasury Secretary, and nothing to prevent 45 from sending the money to his own businesses.
Congress is in active discussion as we write this, and the Senate bill may be amended to remove some of its worse provisions and include some, though not all, of the House provisions. How much they include will be affected by how much pressure they have put on them. Which is where you come in.
What you can do:
Remind our Senators that the House is working to pass a bill with provisions we need, and that they must not compromise to pass anything like the current Senate bill, which prioritizes corporations over people. Also, our CA Senators have co-sponsored the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act, which would help states expand vote-by-mail for this November’s election; this is part of the House bill but it is not in the Senate bill, and needs to be.
What to say:
My name is _____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. We need a bill that actually helps the people who are most affected by the pandemic. That means universal paid sick leave, expanded unemployment benefits, and cash payments. It also means that corporations must not get taxpayer money that goes to CEOs and shareholders instead of directly to workers. Also, please insist that the coronavirus relief package include the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act. Don’t compromise on any of this!
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
- Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
Thank your Representative, and tell them not to give back any protections that already exist.
What to say:
My name is _____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The previous coronavirus bill that originated in the House was much better than what the Senate is now considering but millions of workers are still unprotected. Now the new legislation might even walk back some of the inadequate protections from the previous package! The House needs to make sure people have money for rent, food, medical and debt bills and debt relief, testing and treatment for all, regardless of immigration status, paid sick leave, and more. We’re counting on you.
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
- Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065
Not in CA? Use these links provided by Indivisible National:
Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.
Ion Y contributed to this article.