COVID-19 Response Still Needed

Congress Debates Economic Priorities and Response

UPDATE: The House passed 'American Rescue Plan' now heads to the Senate, where lawmakers will begin opening the COVID-19 relief bill up for amendments and debate. Now is a critical time to reach out to your lawmakers to ensure topline priorities are protected!

Negotiations around policies and funding to address impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have resumed with President Biden and lawmakers. As constituents and people of faith, our voices can make a difference in the process to ensure that Congress focuses on the people and communities who have been hit hardest by the current crisis.

Experts expect the US to reach the grim milestone of more than 500,000 deaths due to COVID-19. The pandemic continues to reveal the discrimination and systemic racism in our society. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports “increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected” and that long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put minoritized communities, including Black, Brown, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native communities and people in poverty, at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Women have been disproportionately displaced from the workplace. Many of us among these populations are front-line workers on whom our nation has depended throughout 2020 and now into 2021. Millions of immigrant workers remain excluded from federal relief, although many are considered “essential.”

We thank lawmakers for the measures already taken to help our nation through this pandemic, but Congress needs to act boldly and with urgency to minimize further suffering and lives lost. President Biden has proposed a comprehensive rescue package to address economic impacts of COVID-19. Lawmakers need to hear from faith-based advocates as negotiations unfold. Based upon ELCA federal priorities for advocacy action, here highlighted below are critical issues being discussed in conjunction with federal support.

Consider these critical issues and what is happening in your community and in your congregation's experience. Write a unique letter to your lawmaker about priorities for this next response package.

  • HUNGER RESPONSE: Congress should extend into the summer the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit to ensure households have enough resources to feed their families. Unemployment Insurance for many is set to expire in March and must be extended. The plan should aid families and low-income workers by increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
  • HEALTH CARE RESPONSE: Minoritized communities are experiencing a disproportionate health impact from the pandemic. Urge inclusion of meaningful and substantive public health funding and technical resources for the Indian Health Service (IHS) and to address other needs of all people in these communities, including accelerated and equitably distributed vaccinations.
  • INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE: Because of the scale of this global crisis, more resources are needed to address the needs of vulnerable communities around the world. To ensure effective global responses that will protect all of us here at home and around the world, we ask Congress to allocate robust funding for international COVID-19 response to protect all of us here at home and around the world.
  • MIGRATION RESPONSE: Congress should expand eligibility for emergency relief to immigrants and mixed-status families, address the spread of COVID-19 in federal immigration detention centers and prevent further fatal outbreaks in facilities with histories of lapses in care. Farmworkers should be eligible for paid sick leave or unemployment insurance in all states, going beyond the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The federal government must also ensure that all workers, regardless of their immigration status, are afforded free testing and access to treatment should they have COVID-19.
  • ESSENTIAL WORKERS, CHILDCARE and SCHOOL RESPONSE: Congress should provide direct assistance for childcare to enable more parents to return to work. Schools must be equipped and prepared to reopen as soon and as safely as possible. Essential workers are critical to the economic life of our country and deserve fair wages—not less than $15 per hour.
  • HOUSING RESPONSE: Without meaningful action, the U.S. could face a new homelessness crisis stemming from mass evictions and. Early reports indicate minoritized communities could be most impacted. Congress could continue to provide meaningful support to homeless congregant shelters and housing aid to keep families in their homes and should extend an eviction moratorium ending March 31. Housing and faith-based providers encourage us to call on Congress to provide $30 billion in emergency rental assistance and additional funding for emergency shelters.

Take time today to make a difference. Write a message to your lawmaker about your greatest concerns and what you think should be included in an equitable federal response.

 

Recipients

  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

Message

Dear [Decision Maker],

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

Contact

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