Rep. Pressley & Colleagues Urge Congressional Leaders to Prioritize Recurring Cash Payments for Vulnerable Communities

April 10, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), along Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and 53 of their colleagues, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging the leaders to prioritize recurring monthly cash payments to those most at-risk during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly low-income communities, immigrants, and gig and service workers, in any future COVID-19 response legislation.

“We know that low-income people are disproportionately at risk of being uninsured or underinsured and lack the resources to prepare and protect themselves against the COVID-19 pandemic,” write the lawmakers.“Many low-income families are on the front lines of this pandemic—working as essential employees in grocery stores, hospitals, and other services. Exposure to COVID-19 is hazardous and has the potential of sending them to the hospital, where medical bills could put their family in financial ruins.”

In their letter, the lawmakers stressed the importance of ensuring people are able to meet their basic needs for the duration of this crisis.

“Simply put—people need more money in their pockets, and sending monthly payments to workers and families is the fastest and most direct way to address that need,” the lawmakers continue. “Now is not a time for timid solutions. In the face of an unprecedented moment in economic history and public health, we need to offer common sense solutions.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congresswoman Pressley has been working to ensure that the federal response prioritizes economic justice for all communities. Last week, she introduced H.R. 6442, the PAID Leave Act to provide universal paid sick days and paid leave to all workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and future public health emergencies. Last month, she introduced H.R. 6363, the Student Debt Emergency Relief Act, to provide immediate monthly payment relief for federal student loan borrowers during this crisis and cancel at least $30,000 in outstanding student loan debt per borrower. She also led a bicameral call for an eviction moratorium during this crisis and joined lawmakers in urging congressional leaders to ensure that any economic stimulus centers the needs of workers and consumers.

The full text of the letter is below and can be found here.

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell, and Leader Schumer,

We write to ask that you center those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by prioritizing recurring direct cash assistance to all as part of a fourth coronavirus response bill. Providing recurring monthly payments is the most efficient mechanism for delivering economic relief to those most at-risk in this crisis, particularly low-income communities, gig and service workers, and our immigrant neighbors. The inclusion of direct assistance in the CARES Act was an important first step, but we must provide workers and families with relief that actually matches the need and scale of this economic and health crisis.  

The CARES Act provided a multi-year bail out for large companies, but it provided many American families with barely enough to cover basic expenses for a few weeks. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic claimed millions of jobs, nearly 40% of Americans reported not having enough cash to cover a $400 unexpected expense. Without ongoing and robust direct payments lasting at least the duration of this crisis, we will fail to address the pain our communities are experiencing from this crisis. Additionally, other developed nations have already proven that sufficient, recurring economic relief is possible. Just recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the newly established Canadian Emergency Response Benefit will provide up to CAN $2,000 per month for four months to mitigate the economic hardship felt by Canadians.

We know that low-income people are disproportionately at risk of being uninsured or underinsured and lack the resources to prepare and protect themselves against the COVID-19 pandemic. Many low income families are on the front lines of this pandemic—working as essential employees in grocery stores, hospitals, and other services. Exposure to COVID-19 is hazardous and has the potential of sending them to the hospital, where medical bills could put their family in financial ruins.

It is important that we lift-up unbanked and underbanked communities by creating a buffer for people who have seen their costs of living rise for decades as their wages have stagnated. Providing recurring payments to everyone in America would help cushion the blows of this global health crisis while chipping away at underlying economic inequalities.

Simply put—people need more money in their pockets, and sending monthly payments to workers and families is the fastest and most direct way to address that need. Now is not a time for timid solutions. In the face of an unprecedented moment in economic history and public health, we need to offer common sense solutions. We thank you for your partnership on these critical issues and look forward to addressing this crisis with the moral clarity and sense of urgency it requires.

Sincerely,

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