Dear Colleague: Update on Coronavirus Relief Negotiations Following House Passage of the Updated Heroes Act
Dear Democratic Colleague,
Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the President and First Lady for a swift and full recovery. This is a sad day for our country, knowing that more than 7 million American families have faced the same worry after their loved one has been infected, and more than 209,000 have died.
Strong action is needed to crush the coronavirus and protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy. Last night, House Democrats showed the strong support for our updated Heroes Act to meet the health and economic needs of the American people during this crisis.
Our negotiations with the Administration continue, and I am hopeful that we can reach agreement. However, we still have significant disagreement in key areas. Today, I am writing to report to you on where we stand on these five priorities:
- Unemployment Insurance – The GOP number does not measure up to the need that we both recognize, particularly as long-term unemployment rises and families are exhausting their benefits. This is separate from our disagreement over the dollar amount for the enhanced unemployment benefit.
- Schools, and State and Local Funding – The September jobs report shows that 280,000 teachers and support staff have lost their jobs in the last month alone, with more than 800,000 fewer teachers and support staff employed compared to this time last year, overwhelmingly because of the coronavirus. We have no right to salute our heroic frontline health care workers, police, fire, sanitation, transit and teachers if we do not give them the state and local funding needed to prevent them from losing their jobs.
- Children – Essential to the well-being of America’s working families is the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. In the original Heroes Act, we allocated to $149 billion, which we have cut to $57 billion in the updated bill. The Republican proposal had zero. We are hopeful that the Administration will join us at our level for the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit and are awaiting a response. In terms of child care, we have $57 billion to their $25 billion, and are pushing them to come up to the higher level.
- Testing & Tracing – Finally the Administration is coming closer to our number on the funds needed for the testing and tracing that science tells us is necessary to crush the virus. However we have not yet reached agreement on the language, which is critical to ensuring that the Administration uses these funds correctly to stop the spread of the virus.
- Appropriations – Many of the priorities in the bill are addressed in the appropriation section, which we have reduced to $144 billion. The White House is suggesting cutting $44 billion more. We await the changes that they are suggesting.
These are five notable areas of concern. There are other areas of disagreement that are part of the discussion, which we continue to work on as well.
We are expecting a response from the White House on these areas and others with more detail. In the meantime, we continue to work on the text to move quickly to facilitate an agreement. I will keep you updated.
Once again, I want to thank our Chairs for the important work that they have done to meet the needs of the American people. Thank you for your leadership.