Week Ending August 21, 2020

Still No Action on Further Pandemic Relief

  • Why is Congress Waiting to Provide Fiscal Relief for State and Local Services?
  • House Democrats Will Vote to Protect Postal Service Operations on August 22

Why is Congress Waiting to Provide Fiscal Relief for State and Local Services?

Still no deal has been reached between the Congress, the White House negotiators and the GOP on any further COVID-19 pandemic relief, despite the increasing need for additional federal support to respond to the worsening public health crisis and deteriorating fiscal conditions at the national, state and local levels. Without substantial relief, states, localities and school districts face dire conditions, including more layoffs, greater reductions in vital public services and even bigger obstacles to respond to the ongoing pandemic health crisis.

Although the House of Representatives acted more than three months ago, the Senate has done nothing. The House-passed Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) provides more than $1.2 trillion to states and local governments and school districts, increases Medicaid payments to states and protects workers on the front lines. It also gives front-line workers premium pay, needed unemployment and food assistance and subsidizes 100% of the cost of COBRA health care for those who have lost their jobs, but the bill continues to languish in the Senate, which is in recess until September.

  • Maintaining State and Local Services is Imperative: Without substantial federal assistance, states, cities, towns and school districts cannot provide vital services, fight the coronavirus, or help re-open our economy. Federal support to states, cities and towns is essential for maintaining the public services that communities depend on, including public safety, health care, schools and sanitation. Without assistance there will be more cuts in critical services and layoffs of millions of workers, many of whom are on the front lines and still fighting the pandemic. Functioning public services such as health care and transportation will make it possible to safely re-open our economy, help businesses, and get people back to work.
  • Economic Stability for All is at Risk: National, state and local economies are all connected. Denying aid will force devastating cuts in food assistance, unemployment benefits, health coverage and other supports for struggling families, while they still need help. We need public services like health care, education and transportation to function in order to support the economy. House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) released a new report on the dire need for at least $900 billion in state and local assistance, which covers the cause of the crisis and explains the threat to economic recovery if nothing is done.
  • Pandemic Fight is Dependent on Aid: Federal support for state and local services is needed because of the coronavirus pandemic and the financial crisis it caused. All American communities – big cities and small towns, rural and urban, “blue states” and “red states” – need assistance to maintain vital services. As a direct result of the pandemic, states and communities have seen a huge reduction in revenues, while costs like unemployment insurance and health care have skyrocketed. Federal assistance is a direct response to the pandemic, which is why it has the support of mayors and governors of both political parties.
  • Bankruptcy Should NOT be an Option: Do not get sidetracked by misguided issues. It is irresponsible and wrong to suggest states can simply file for bankruptcy. It’s not about pensions or fiscal management. No one should exploit this crisis to advance a political agenda. All states and communities have been hurt by the pandemic and the shutdown, and we should respond as Americans by taking bipartisan action to save jobs, maintain essential services and safely reopen our economy.

What You Need to Know: The Senate must act as soon as possible and pass a plan that provides at least $1 trillion in direct, flexible aid to state and local governments, increases funding for Medicaid, and provides additional support for schools to ensure safety and to meet the needs of students learning remotely. It’s not an option to allow more Americans to lose their jobs and essential public services to be shut down. Communities can’t afford to wait. Congress must fund the front lines immediately.

Urgent Action Needed to Protect State and Local Jobs and Services

Additional Assistance to Fund Front-Line Jobs and Services is Needed.

It’s urgent that you call your members of Congress as soon as possible. Time is running out for Congress to provide funding support before state and local governments are forced to lay off more workers and cut more vital public services.  Over 1 million public employees have already been given pink slips. Front-line public service workers like you are critical to fighting this pandemic and reopening our economy. America cannot do it without you!

Please call Congress right now at 1-888-981-9704

Tell your House and Senate members of Congress that it’s urgent to fund the front lines NOW, with at least $1 trillion needed for states, counties, and cities – including more funding for Medicaid and education – for essential public services to fight COVID and reopen our economy.

For more ways to take action, visit the AFSCME COVID-19 webpage.

House Democrats Will Vote to Protect Postal Service Operations on August 22

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) scheduled a rare mid-August Saturday session of the House of Representatives to vote to maintain America’s daily mail delivery and operations. The scheduled Aug. 22 vote is expected to approve “Delivering for America Act” (H.R. 8015), which would prevent the United States Postal Service (USPS) from implementing or approving any change to its operations or level of services differing from those that were in effect on Jan. 1, 2020 that would impede prompt, reliable and efficient services. We also expect this legislation to appropriate $25 billion for postal operations as previously recommended by USPS Board of Governors, who each were appointed by President Donald Trump.

  • Rare Session Scheduled to Protect Postal Delivery During Election: Pelosi convened this urgent session between the Democratic and Republican national conventions to minimize efforts to disrupt timely USPS deliveries and operations, which are threatened by recent actions of U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy – a recently installed Trump ally. DeJoy has acted to weaken and delay mail deliveries by removing post boxes, dismantling mail sorting machines, reducing post office hours, and suspending postal workers’ overtime work and pay. AFSCME, postal workers, and allies are concerned additional threats by Trump and his administration will impede voters mailing their ballots to vote in upcoming elections and harm those dependent on mail delivery for medicines and medical supplies, including at-risk populations, veterans, seniors, and underserved and rural communities.
  • State Attorneys General Challenge Harmful Actions: More than 20 state attorneys general announced plans to sue the Trump administration to address these unlawful harmful changes. Speaker Pelosi said, “the postal service is election central during the pandemic, and Democrats will not allow the President to force Americans to choose between their health and their vote.”

What You Need to Know: DeJoy became U.S. Postmaster General in May after he contributed more than $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund – a pro-President Trump political action committee; donated millions more to Republican candidates and party organizations; and led fundraising for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Get the AFSCME Legislative Report delivered via email by signing up here.

Thank you!

You will begin receiving the AFSCME Legislative Report via email.