Dear Colleague: Update on Coronavirus Relief Negotiations and the Administration's Insufficient Proposal
Dear Democratic Colleague,
On Friday, the Trump Administration returned to the table with a proposal that attempted to address some of the concerns Democrats have in the coronavirus relief negotiations. This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back. When the President talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold, rather than agreeing on language prescribing how we honor our workers, crush the virus and put money in the pockets of workers.
At this point, we still have disagreement on many priorities, and Democrats are awaiting language from the Administration on several provisions as the negotiations on the overall funding amount continue.
A key concern is the absence of any response on a strategic plan to crush the virus. We cannot safely reopen schools, the economy and our communities until we crush the virus with the science-based, national plan for testing, tracing, treatment and isolation, and for the equitable and ethical distribution of a safe and effective vaccine once developed. This strategic plan is contained in the Heroes Act. Please see the Energy and Commerce memo which is attached.
From start to finish, the Trump Administration refuses to honor our heroes and respect the safety our workforce. The funding for state and local remains sadly inadequate. At the same time, the Trump proposal recklessly leaves behind workers by ignoring the need for strong OSHA protections to keep our workers safe as they risk their lives and jobs to keep us safe and keep the economy running. We are urging the Administration to support our strong OSHA language, which requires OSHA to issue an enforceable emergency temporary standard within seven days that covers all workers from COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately, they have a Liability Provision that is reckless in how it ignores safety in the workplace.
At this point, the Trump proposal is insufficient in meeting families’ needs, in stark contrast to the Heroes Act, which secured tens of billions for direct relief and refundable credits. At the end of September, in preparation for the restarting of our negotiations, I had previously written to you about what the Heroes Act mean for families at their kitchen tables. For a family of four earning $24,000:
- Direct Relief – Heroes Act: a total $9,890 when including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Trump proposal: eliminate Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Child Dependent Care Tax Credit.
- Earned Income Tax Credit – Heroes Act: If the parents lost all of their income in 2020, they could receive up to $5,920 in EITC based on their earnings from 2019. Trump proposal: eliminate.
- Child Tax Credit and Child Dependent Care Tax Credit – Heroes Act: fully refundable $4,000 for the two children equaling an additional $1,200 in refund. Trump proposal: eliminate.
- Child Care – Heroes Act: $57 billion to enable parents to work while their children are in the uncertain circumstances of in-person, virtual or hybrid learning. Trump proposal: No movement from $25 billion figure, which is totally inadequate. At the same time, Republicans are insisting on a tax benefit for the wealthiest people in America, which is retroactive and therefore not coronavirus related, at the expense of tax credits for the families of our poorest children who are directly affected by coronavirus. At a time when children and families are challenged by uncertainty in whether their schools will be actual, virtual or hybrid, the Trump Administration is underfunding education.
- Unemployment Insurance – Heroes Act: contains strong funding to protect the five million workers at risk of exhausting all of their regular Unemployment Insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits before January 31. Trump proposal: $200 billion less than what Democrats proposed, which experts tell us is what is needed.
Our Heroes Act is a tribute to the tremendous leadership of Chairwoman Nita Lowey and our Committee Chairs, who once again brought their formidable expertise to assembling a bill that is science, data and evidence-based. Yet, Trump proposal: slash billions of dollars from appropriations.
Despite these unaddressed concerns, I remain hopeful that yesterday’s developments will move us closer to an agreement on a relief package that addresses the health and economic crisis facing America’s families. As I have said before, the devil and the angels are in the details. With over 213,000 Americans tragically having died, nearly 7.7 million having been infected and millions having lost jobs and income security, it is long overdue for Republicans to get serious and work with us to defeat this crisis.
These and other issues are unresolved affect lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy. We hope to make progress soon. Updates will continue to be ongoing.
Thank you for your leadership for America’s working families For The People For The Children.