WASHINGTON, D.C. –The U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act three months ago that would, among other things, provide $1 trillion to state and local governments struggling to maintain essential health, education and other public services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Republicans have blocked a vote on the HEROES Act ever since and can’t agree upon an alternative bill.
As of this morning, Democratic and Republican negotiators are reportedly are at an impasse on finding middle ground on COVID-19 relief legislation. McConnell has said he is committed to a “negotiated settlement,” but Republican negotiators are refusing to provide any money at all to desperate state and local governments, which they call a “bailout.” As a result, states including Washington face major revenue shortfalls that will require tax increases or major cuts in jobs and services.
Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), has sent the following urgent action alert to all of his union’s members across the country last night. All other union members and supporters of public services are encouraged to participate as well.
The Senate continues to drag its feet. But our communities – and the front-line workers fighting the pandemic and helping Americans who have lost their jobs – can’t afford to wait any longer.
Without this relief package, we won’t be able to keep nurses and other front-line health care workers on the job. Our schools won’t be able to safely reopen. Help for Americans who lost their jobs will slow even further. The trash won’t get picked up, and 911 response times will only increase.
This isn’t a blue state or a red state issue. Federal help for America’s states, cities, towns and schools is critical to saving the essential public services that all our people and communities rely on every single day. It’s these services that we need to beat this pandemic and safely reopen the economy. We cannot choose between the two — they go hand-in-hand.
Each day the Senate delays is another day of essential public services being cut and front-line public service workers being thanked with a pink slip. Continued inaction will be catastrophic for the economy and our chances of recovery.
Our lives and livelihoods are on the line.