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Senate’s ‘skinny’ COVID-19 relief bill is just a ‘ploy,’ says Saunders

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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By AFSCME Staff ·

While the Senate today blocked consideration of a bill that purports to help Americans struggling from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, AFSCME President Lee Saunders called out the so-called “skinny” bill for what it really is: a ploy.

“Today’s Senate vote was another meaningless exercise designed to present the illusion of action – nothing more. It was called a ‘skinny bill’ because barely anything was included to help Americans get through a period of unprecedented anxiety and uncertainty,” Saunders said in a statement. “It was a ploy to provide cover for senators who have turned their backs on families and communities being ravaged by this pandemic.”

In the midst of a devastating recession and the worst public health crisis in a century, what’s needed is a bold investment that meets the moment. The economy has lost more than 10 million jobs since February. Eight million more people have slipped into poverty just since May. The relief provided by the CARES Act is rapidly expiring, and many families are struggling to pay their bills, terrified of contracting a deadly virus and unable to send their children to school.  

As Saunders noted, the House-passed Heroes Act – which provides $3 trillion in COVID aid including assistance to states, cities, towns and schools – has been sitting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s inbox for five months now, but he has refused to consider it. McConnell and his fellow Republicans have “zero sense of urgency” about helping working families and are standing in the way of a comprehensive deal.

All they’re worried about, by McConnell’s own admission, is how taking up a stimulus bill will interfere with their mad dash to confirm an anti-worker, anti-health care Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

What the Senate ought to do instead is to pass a bill – the Heroes Act is ready for a Senate vote – that adequately funds the front lines and provides robust aid to states, cities, towns and schools. As Saunders noted, this is the only way to maintain the essential services that our communities need, keep public service workers on the job and put the economy on the road to recovery.

“There is still time to reach a compromise on such a bill, which enjoys overwhelming support from the public and from leading economists,” Saunders said. “But if President Trump and Senator McConnell won’t budge, we will get it done after we replace them in the November 3 elections.”

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