Week Ending July 24, 2020

Urgent Action Needed on State and Local Aid

  • Urgent Action Needed on State and Local Aid
  • Improving the Defense Production Act: Forcing Trump to Strengthen the Supply Chain and Minimize COVID-19

Over two months ago, the House took bold action in passing the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) with significant aid to state and local governments. Even though the fiscal situation has gotten worse, the Senate has still not acted. Since then, many states have seen record levels of infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 cases. Demand for needed services is still surging while revenue is falling. Funding and protecting workers on the front lines is essential to safely reopening our country. At least $1 trillion in federal assistance is urgently needed to help states and localities continue delivering vital public services like health care, education and mass transit, and to avoid more layoffs.

  • The economy remains in a deep recession, and state and local governments have been hit particularly hard – According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state budget shortfalls expected from COVID-19’s economic fallout will total a cumulative $555 billion over state fiscal years  (FY) 2020-2022. A new survey from the National League of Cities shows cities are projected to face a $360 billion revenue loss over the next three years. According to the National Association of Counties, counties anticipate a $202 billion impact to budgets through FY 2021, with widespread economic consequences. The fiscal relief for states and other governments that has been provided is too small to meet rising needs.
  • The loss of public sector jobs is catastrophic for the economy and hinders any chance of recovery – Already, states and localities have furloughed or laid off 1.5 million workers. Economists project greater losses in the public sector, even as the private sector shows signs of recovery. Moody’s Analytics’ Mark Zandi said, “The price tag keeps going up the more infections we have” and without significant aid we risk more layoffs and a double-dip recession.

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 distance learning. 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 on State and Local Aid

Additional State and Local Aid Is Still Needed

It’s urgent that you call your U.S. senators as soon as possible. Time is running out for Congress to provide aid before state and local governments lay off more workers. An estimated 1.5 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 can do neither without you.

Please call your senators right now at 1-888-981-9704.

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

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

Improving the Defense Production Act: Forcing Trump to Strengthen the Supply Chain and Minimize COVID-19

Democrats in the Senate and the House tried this week to advance legislation to strengthen the Defense Production Act (DPA); help implement an effective federal COVID-19 response plan, including fully using DPA; and overcome President Donald Trump’s ongoing failures to obtain and distribute needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to front-line public service workers, patients, and at-risk people and communities. Democratic supporters seek to minimize COVID-19-related infections, hospitalizations and deaths, and the resulting unemployment, impoverishment and recession.

  • Effort Thwarted in Senate – Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) led efforts in support of their legislation, Medical Supply Chain Transparency and Delivery Act (S. 3627), which would strengthen the DPA, and requested unanimous consent to approve S. 3627. Unfortunately, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) objected and blocked the effort. Other Democrats highlighted the need to approve this bill immediately to implement an effective federal COVID-19 response plan, including fully using the DPA and force the Trump administration to act comprehensively to minimize the pandemic, protect American workers and patients, and prevent more deaths.

What You Need to Know: The full House of Representatives already approved Rep. Juan Vargas’ (D-Calif.) amendment, endorsed by AFSCME, to strengthen the Defense Production Act (DPA) via a voice vote as part of a broader package of amendments, and then the House approved the underlying legislation, “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA). This amendment requires “representatives of labor organizations, representing workers, including unions that represent health workers, manufacturers, teachers, other public sector employees, and service sector workers” to have meaningful consultations with decision makers to identify affected workers and needed medical supplies. This amendment also requires DPA to be used to help America minimize COVID-19 and related problems, and identifies certain supplies used to fight and reduce COVID-19’s impacts that are scarce and critical. It requires enhanced oversight of pricing for critical materials, determination of each state’s targeted testing level, a point person to better coordinate the federal government and private sector, and a strategic plan to produce PPE and supplies needed to reduce COVID-19 harm.

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