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Organizations Join Senate Democrats in Demanding McConnell Bring HEROES Act to Floor

06/18/2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Major progressive organizations are joining Senate Democrats today demanding Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bring the HEROES Act up for debate as this week marked the one-month anniversary of the House of Representatives passing the legislation. Earlier today, Senate Democrats sent a letter to Sen. McConnell condemning the fact that the Senate has taken zero action on the HEROES Act in the past month and urging him to bring it up for debate, improvements, and a vote before the 4th of July Recess. 

Signers of the letter, led by Sen. Jeff Merkley, include Sens. Baldwin, Blumenthal, Booker, Brown, Cardin, Durbin, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Harris, Hirono, Klobuchar, Leahy, Markey, Stabenow, Van Hollen, Warren, Whitehouse and Wyden. 

The organizations joining these senators in urging that the HEROES Act be debated before the July 4th recess include American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Care in Action, Demos, Greenpeace, Indivisible, MoveOn, SEIU, Sunrise Movement and Color of Change. People in America — including the millions of members that these groups represent — are depending on the Senate for additional relief and cannot afford to wait while their representatives go on vacation. 

“The Senate cannot go on vacation before taking a vote on this lifesaving aid for our communities,” said Randi Weingarten, President of AFT. “Without federal resources, our schools cannot reopen safely, our elections remain in grave danger, and the working people who have carried us through the COVID-19 crisis can’t get the protections they need. Inaction is not an option. As our country grapples with these three urgent crises -- of public health, an economic recession, and racial justice -- we cannot forfeit our kids’ future. Leader McConnell must do his job and bring the HEROES Act for a vote immediately, because the very future of our country depends on it.”    

“Senate Republicans refusing to move on the HEROES Act is an apparent disregard for human life,” said Ai-jen Poo, senior advisor to Care in Action. “People are suffering. There are two million COVID-19 cases in America, and 40 million people have lost jobs. As the weeks tick on, many families — especially Black and brown domestic workers who are faring the worst in this public health crisis — fear they will be unable to pay their rent, utility bills, or put food on the table. And the current uprising, sparked by police violence and other state-sanctioned violence against Black people in America, make it clear: We need to protect Black lives. That starts with prioritizing care and making fundamental human rights like housing, food, and protection for our essential workers available. We've run out of time — we need relief now.”

“Hundreds of Americans are dying every day from COVID19, and working families are facing catastrophic levels of job loss as the rent and bills continue to mount. This is a crisis of epic proportions that is devastating Black and brown communities in particular,” said K. Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos. “The Federal government’s inaction is a moral crime against the very communities most in need. The Senate must bring the HEROES Act to the floor and deliver immediate relief to working families.”

"In the three months since the Senate last took action to provide COVID-19 relief, deaths in the United States have passed 110,000 and millions more people have filed for unemployment," said Greenpeace USA Climate Campaigner Charlie Jiang. "Senators didn't hesitate to pour trillions of dollars into propping up Wall Street and stealth bailouts for fossil fuel companies, but they still have work to do to protect people reeling from the health and economic impacts of this pandemic. The HEROES Act is not perfect, but it marks critical progress towards protecting essential workers and building a more people-powered democracy. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have delayed it long enough."

“The COVID-19 crisis is only beginning. With cases spiking around the country and many families hanging on by a thread financially, the Senate absolutely cannot break for the July 4 recess without moving ahead with HEROES legislation,” said Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the Indivisible Project. “This is a moment for leadership and urgency. As the country mobilizes in defense of Black lives, momentum is building for real structural change that rolls back white supremacy. The Senate must do its job and move meaningful legislation that recognizes and addresses the impact of COVID on communities of color. It cannot drop the ball right now and risk putting the country into an economic tailspin."

“People across the country are struggling and relief is urgently needed, but when the House acted last month the Senate went on vacation,” said Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn. “Mitch McConnell’s ongoing refusal to take up the HEROES Act could be the nail in the coffin of Republicans’ Senate majority in November, but we’d rather that people get the relief they need. We urge senators to immediately take up, and then strengthen and pass, this bill.”

“It is unacceptable that the Senate has taken zero action to debate or pass the HEROES Act since May 12,”  said Mary Kay Henry, President of SEIU. “The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over for millions of janitors, nursing home workers and other frontline workers still fighting to get access to PPE, paid sick-time and essential pay, and the millions more who have lost their jobs. SEIU members and worker leaders in the Fight for $15 and a Union will keep fighting for every working person to have paid sick days, including healthcare and fast-food workers; everyone, regardless of immigration status, to have access to free coronavirus testing and treatment; and an expansion of safeguards for voters.”

"Lives and livelihoods are on the line, especially those of Black business owners who were left out in the first two rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change. “It should be an easy priority for both Republicans and Democrats to create a real plan to support small businesses. Our economy doesn’t stand a chance of fully recovering or moving toward equity without support for the cornerstones and economic engines of our communities. As everyone puts out Black Lives Matter statements, it’s time to put the money where their mouth is.”

“Our communities are facing the interlocking crises of coronavirus, economic fallout, police violence and climate collapse. We are showing up for each other through mutual aid and direct action to demand care and justice. Meanwhile, Republicans are watching millions of people suffer and not raising a finger. Instead they are letting people’s pockets run dry while they funnel millions of dollars to prop up their corporate executive donors. We shouldn’t need to be sending this letter asking for the bare minimum. McConnell, it is past time to pass the HEROES Act to improve the lives of millions” said Lauren Maunus, Sunrise Legislative Manager.

 The full text of the letter is below. 

 

### 

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510
 

Dear Leader McConnell:

One month ago this week, the House of Representatives passed the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act’’ or the ‘‘HEROES Act’’ to provide relief for the American people from the acute public health and economic crisis brought about by COVID-19.

It is unacceptable that the Senate has taken zero action to debate or pass the HEROES Act for this entire month, and it is critical that the provisions in HEROES be debated and considered on the floor before the July 4 recess. Waiting until the end of July when we are right up against the expiration of key response measures represents inexcusable delay and dereliction of duty that would put families, workers and businesses across our country in an even more precarious position by preventing an economic recovery.

Our nation has now suffered more than 115,000 deaths and more than 2 million confirmed cases, with tens of thousands of additional cases being confirmed each day there is little sign of abating in the United States. Some states that have reopened, including Arizona, Texas and Florida, are now seeing alarming upticks in cases and hospitalizations. Dr. Anthony Fauci said as recently as June 9 that “we’re still at the beginning” of the crisis. Fed. Chair Jerome Powell said on June 10 that unemployment remains historically high and has been the most severe for lower wage workers, women, Black and Hispanic populations, and that the economy will need aid from Congress for a long time to come. In short, inaction is having a calamitous cost to the health and economic crisis that will be with us for the remainder of 2020, if not longer.

As we write, our nation is also being transformed by a wave of activism in response to police brutality and the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.  These protests have called on each of us to combat deep, systemic racial injustice. The COVID-19 crisis has only underscored many of the longstanding structural inequities and disinvestments that have resulted in crises that disproportionately harm people of color, especially Black and brown Americans.

If we fail to act and meet this moment with the urgency it requires, then some of the key immediate relief from our previous bipartisan relief act will expire on July 31 and send the frail economy into a deepening spiral that will hurt millions of Americans. As you well know, over 40 million Americans have lost their jobs. Millions more are living on the brink. Essential workers continue to lack PPE and basic protections. Cities, towns and rural communities are poised to lose teachers, firefighters and their most essential services if we don’t act now.   

Recent developments and data only underscore the importance of a number of the provisions in the HEROES Act, including:

  • Protections for essential workers;
  • Financial assistance to states, tribes and local communities so that schools can reopen and parents can return to work and they can continue providing critical services like health and housing assistance;
  • Provisions to ensure safe and accessible voting for all eligible voters in November;
  • Help for all people who have lost income to make ends meet, including by boosting SNAP, providing rental assistance, cash payments and extending enhanced unemployment insurance benefits;
  • A national strategy to increase testing and contact tracing to avoid a catastrophic second wave of infections;
  • Vital funding to ensure the U.S. Postal Service can continue to deliver mail to people across the country; and
  • In recognition that the virus and its impacts are hitting communities of color the hardest, policies to ensure explicitly that the bill invests in and protects the health and economic well-being of all Black and brown people living in America.

It would be an abdication of our most basic responsibilities for us to leave for the 4th of July holiday without bringing the HEROES Act to the floor for a vote and to consider amendments to this bill that could make it even better. Inaction is not an option. 

Sincerely,

Sen. Jeffrey A. Merkley
Sen. Patrick Leahy
Sen. Ron Wyden
Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Cory A. Booker
Sen. Kamala D. Harris
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin
Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono
Sen. Richard J. Durbin
Sen. Debbie Stabenow
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Sen. Chris Van Hollen
Sen. Kristen Gillibrand
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Sen. Edward J. Markey
Sen. Sherrod Brown