Washington, D.C. — A new analysis from the Center for American Progress outlines the shortcomings in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) proposed coronavirus stimulus bill. The analysis looks at how the McConnell’s proposals would impact families and workers, the economy, the health care system, people with disabilities, and education and child care.
The analysis finds that Leader McConnell’s proposal is centered around corporate bailouts and tax cuts while leaving behind the needs of workers who have been laid off and are struggling to get food on the table, as well as those working in critical jobs in health care, child care, or grocery stores. Where it does provide relief to families and individuals in need, it provides too little and cruelly leaves out or provides less to those who are likely to face the greatest strain.
CAP’s experts find the bill to be deficient in the following areas:
- Inadequate direct payments to families. By phasing in the payments based on income, Leader McConnell’s proposal will shut out many of the most vulnerable people entirely and give less to families with low and moderate incomes (including most seniors and many people with disabilities) than people who are relatively better off.
- Insufficient health care funds to states, health care workers, and hospitals. States need additional federal funding to bolster their Medicaid programs beyond the actions taken. The proposal also ignores the needs of health care workers and hospitals that are on the front lines the COVID-19 emergency. Congress should also expand coverage at this time of increased need, including a COVID-19 special enrollment period to allow people to enroll in plans offered in the marketplaces.
- Insufficient unemployment insurance. The current system will not meet the needs of the estimated 2 million people who may be applying for benefits over the next weeks and months, and it does not account for the added difficulty those who are already unemployed will face in getting a job. The amount newly out-of-work people receive must be increased, and Congress needs to give states the resources and authority to quickly get payments to people in need. McConnell’s bill fails to do this.
- Inadequate housing assistance and protections. Leader McConnell’s proposal fails to prioritize housing assistance, for the people who most need it, especially people experiencing homelessness and struggling renters. This inaction will exacerbate the already dire national housing crisis at a time when ensuring that every individual is safely and supportively housed serves as the bedrock of public health and economic stability.
- Insufficient food assistance. Leader McConnell’s proposal fails to take any steps to stem a growing hunger crisis. It does not mention the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or other nutrition assistance programs. SNAP can be one of the fastest and most effective ways to help those facing economic crisis: It provides for increased state flexibility critical to helping people and families keep food on the table while addressing other urgent needs.
- Backwards on paid leave. In a time when it is more urgent than ever that sick workers stay home, McConnell’s bill goes backwards on paid leave. The proposal further limits paid sick leave protections to workers by expanding the small business exemption to avoid all coverage for family caregiving, allowing the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to exclude some executive branch employees, and suggesting that all leave must be taken off in one block and limited in type.
- Leaves out people with disabilities. The Senate stimulus’s proposed cash benefit is constructed in a way that will likely exempt people receiving Supplemental Security Income and exempt—if not extremely limit applicability for—those on Social Security Disability Insurance due to a majority of recipients of both programs having no federal tax liability. In addition, the federal government is the largest employer of people with disabilities. Allowing OMB to waive the Paid Family Medical Leave mandate for executive agencies will disproportionately harm impact people with disabilities.
- Insufficient resources for education and child care. Leader McConnell’s bill offers no support for K-12 schools, which are struggling to provide meals, distance learning, and other essential services to students while physically closed. It also provides no support for child care centers, which operate on very small margins and are facing difficult decisions between closure or staying open to provide critical services for parents whose jobs are on the front lines of the crisis. McConnell’s proposal also includes “National Emergency Education Waivers”, which provides Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with extraordinarily broad authority to disregard core civil rights protections. This could be devastating for students with disabilities and other people with disabilities. It also it fails to provide any new funding to help cover basic needs of college students in the form of emergency grant aid or for states to shore up colleges’ budgets and avert massive tuition increases in the future.
Read: “The Senate Stimulus Proposal in Response to Coronavirus Fails to Meet the Moment” by the Center for American Progress
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.