WASHINGTON— Dozens of organizations, representing millions of people across the United States, called on Congress today to urgently pass a COVID relief package to prevent unnecessary suffering across the country and to ensure voting rights.
The call for COVID-19 relief comes during an unprecedented moment of climate-induced wildfires, heat waves and hurricanes.
Today’s letter demands that Congress protect vote-by-mail practices, protect millions of workers on the frontlines of the pandemic with stronger safety standards and personal protective equipment, and prevent the inhumane practice of evictions and utility shutoffs. It also calls on Congress to defend the U.S. Postal Service against politically motivated attacks, support states and localities to ensure continued services, and reject dangerous corporate liability waivers.
The letter was signed by consumer-rights protection groups; labor unions; environmental, climate, and utility justice organizations; and civil rights, faith, and democracy groups. The groups are calling on congressional leadership as multiple crises plague people across the country, disproportionately affecting Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities and low-wealth people.
The House passed the HEROES Act in May, but the Senate has failed to pass a stimulus package despite the support of several senators.
The full demands and signatories can be found here.
“There are so many deserving people and organizations who need emergency COVID-19 relief now, including the public Postal Service. We are uplifted by the number of organizations and the public that have come together to help save the Post Office: labor unions, consumer rights, environmental and climate justice, civil rights, faith and democracy groups and millions of postal customers. This great solidarity can only strengthen our movement to provide the relief that is necessary for our survival and ensure a vibrant Postal Service for generations to come,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union.
“It is unconscionable that Congress has failed to provide relief to the people of the United States for months, while continuing to roll out corporate bailouts programs. Our essential workers deserve access to PPE, we need our Postal Service now more than ever to help us deliver a fair election, and nobody should endure their utilities being shut off or experience eviction amidst a deadly pandemic. We need Congress to act and provide the support workers and families desperately need the moment Congress is back in session,” said Johanna Bozuwa, climate and energy program co-manager at The Democracy Collaborative.
“Inequity anywhere reinforces inequity everywhere. At a time when most people must stay home to protect the health and safety of their communities, losing internet access because of an unpaid bill is unacceptable. People need internet access to connect to schools and offices and doctors, but losing internet also means it’s even harder to pay other utility bills, keep your home, or sign up for critical government support. To survive the pandemic and then thrive after it, people need these essential services, along with secure housing, access to PPE, and a functional Postal Service,” said Dana Floberg, policy manager at Free Press Action.
“While Congress took a recess, people couldn’t. It’s heartless and cruel that the federal government is refusing to protect families from losing electricity and ensure that frontline workers are safe, especially in this time of apocalyptic fires, heat waves, and flooding in the climate emergency. Congress must put politics aside and pass a coronavirus relief package now,” said Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We’re six months into this public health crisis. Without a vaccine to treat the pandemic, housing was the prescription. We were told to stay home to keep ourselves and our communities safe. But that was never an option for millions who experience homelessness or housing insecurity. Congress is six months too late in cancelling rents and mortgages. The next relief package must include the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act,” said Tara Raghuveer, homes guarantee campaign director at People's Action.
“Millions of people across the country are at risk of losing their homes and access to basic necessities, not to mention their lives, during this unprecedented pandemic. Instead of heeding the resounding demands to protect our election integrity and stop utility shutoffs and housing debt, Senate leaders decided to return home and some even pushed legislation that would protect corporations at the expense of peoples’ wellbeing. Enough. The inaction is unconscionable. How much more harm must be done for the government to provide just and equitable relief for the people?” said Alissa Weinman, associate campaign director at Corporate Accountability.