How Democrats are insulting the American people on COVID-19 relief

How Democrats are insulting the American people on COVID-19 relief
AFGE members and AFGE National President Cox join Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer at the Capitol to discuss the partial government shutdown and impact on federal workers. AFGE

Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Congress has poured trillions of dollars into relief efforts that mostly benefit wealthy individuals and big corporations. From a $500 billion corporate slush funds with the barest of oversight, $195 billion in tax cuts for millionaires, and $350 billion in small business loans that were sucked up by big chains and public companies, our lawmakers have gone through three full relief packages without including substantial or adequate relief for the most vulnerable in this crisis—working people.

The latest iteration of Coronavirus relief stimulus—dubbed "CARES 3.5" or COVID 3.5—was a bill that replenishes the Small Business Administration’s program for small businesses loans after the first round of funding went largely to companies that didn't need it. This funding was also a main Republican priority and the single biggest piece of leverage House Democrats had to negotiate a better deal for workers.

Instead of using that leverage, Democrats told Americans who work for a living to just wait until the next bill for the changes they desperately need.

The challenges that millions of Americans are facing right now are real, life-threatening, and demand immediate, far-reaching action by our elected officials. It shouldn't be too much to ask that they act like it.

It is an insult to the American people that with our elections in November catastrophically threatened by this pandemic, we still don't have universal vote by mail, additional election security funding, and no plan from Democrats on how to stop President Trump from ripping apart the U.S. Postal Service. If we don't secure this election immediately, the new refrain from Democrats might as well be "just wait another 4 years."

Congress voted on CARES 3.5 on the same day that reported jobless claims rose by another 4.4 million. Despite that horrifying figure, this bill doesn't reflect a sense of emergency. Congress has, thus far, clearly decided to keep pushing the ball further down the road when it comes to additional support, but there's still time to change.

"Just wait until the next bill" is not good enough anymore. If these are truly legislative priorities for members of Congress, as they should be, they need to start fighting for them.


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