Yesterday, Senators voted down leader McConnell’s “skinny” bill. Good riddance! The scaled-back stimulus bill was a far cry from what California needs to weather the COVID crisis.
We are six months into the pandemic and over 2.5 million Californians are still unemployed. Changes to schools, child care, and other services are adding to the hardship and leaving many families wondering how they will pay rent and put food on the table. In late July, nearly one in four California adults lived in households facing food insecurity. Congress’s continued failure to deliver relief is unacceptable. The COVID-19 crisis does not have to be a crisis of hunger.
Rising hardship must be met with bold, inclusive federal COVID relief, but instead leader McConnell introduced a bill that would leave millions of Californians behind. Similar to the Senate package introduced in late July, McConnell’s “skinny” bill was most notable for what it left behind:
- No increase in SNAP/CalFresh benefits to help people buy food for themselves and their families;
- A massive cut in unemployment benefits for laid-off workers ($300/week instead of the original $600/week) even though job losses remain higher than at the peak of the Great Recession.
- No extension of Pandemic EBT to help families buy food for their children when schools are implementing distance or hybrid models of learning and no expansion of Pandemic EBT to younger children who have been impacted by child care closures and public health orders that reduce class sizes.
- No extension of WIC waivers to enable families to continue to enroll remotely and to access their benefits while minimizing exposure risk for themselves, their families, and clinic staff.
- No new fiscal aid (beyond insufficient school aid) to address California’s $54.3 billion deficit, help prevent layoffs of public workers, and avoid cuts to child care, schools, and critical public services that Californians rely on.
- Not enough aid to stabilize child care and help parents get back to work ($15 billion versus the $50 billion child care advocates are requesting).
- No additional economic relief for households. The plan does not include additional stimulus payments or any expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers.
We thank Senators Harris and Feinstein for continuing to call for more robust COVID relief. We urge their continued commitment to a relief package that addresses the scope and scale of this crisis. Protecting the health and wellbeing of Californians in the wake of COVID-19 must be a priority. The next recovery package must include nutrition assistance, economic relief for California’s families, and adequate aid to states.
How You Can Help
Consider issuing a press statement, tweet, or other reaction to the “skinny” package.
Sample tweet: McConnell’s senate relief package is wholly inadequate and fails to deliver the #COVIDRelief Californians need to put food on the table @kamalaHarris @SenFeinstein keep up the fight!