STATEMENT: CAP’s Neera Tanden Reacts to Compromise ‘Phase 3’ Public Health and Economic Rescue Package

Washington, D.C. — Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, released the following statement reacting to a compromise “Phase 3” public health and economic rescue package:

Our greatest immediate challenge is getting this public health crisis under control. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with the rest of the Democratic caucus, took a no-strings-attached corporate bailout and shaped it toward a proposal that will begin to help the workers, families, and states most affected by this crisis. 

While the plan is not perfect, it will help many Americans who urgently need it and is a significant improvement over the original Republican proposal. While congressional Republican leadership used the urgency of the moment to hand out over-generous bailouts, Democrats prioritized benefits to workers rather than shareholders and executives. That work continues past this bill.

Flattening the curve to avoid overwhelming the U.S. health care system requires very painful but necessary social distancing measures—measures that are saving lives now and will continue to do so over time. It is critical to help people get through this economic challenge so that they are better able to take the social distancing steps that are crucial to slowing the coronavirus. Rather than take our foot off the gas pedal in this critical moment, Congress and this administration must act to alleviate the adverse effects of social distancing measures and make it possible for Americans to adapt as best they can. 

This legislation includes necessary provisions that can cushion the immediate blow, such as providing additional aid to hospitals, making direct economic assistance payments that include the hardest-pressed households, strengthening the unemployment insurance system, and supporting small businesses. While previous versions of the package lacked real aid to many of the workers and families who are struggling most, this deal includes crucial protective elements such as significantly expanded unemployment benefits, relief for states, aid for public and higher education, a down payment on ensuring free and fair elections, and emergency relief for tribal nations. 

Yet given the intransigence of congressional Republican leadership, this bill falls short in several key areas, and lawmakers should commit to addressing these issues in future legislative proposals. Lawmakers must do more to protect civil rights for our nation’s students, particularly students with disabilities; ensure people can access the reproductive health care they need; guarantee paid leave; provide financial support to state and local education agencies; increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits; bolster home- and community-based services for people with disabilities; further support the elections process; guarantee access to no-cost testing for everyone, regardless of status; and ensure the stabilization of the child care market. 

Beyond this response, it is clear that the Trump administration has much more work to do to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The White House tragically mishandled this crisis from the start, which has left the country ill-prepared and forced to take drastic actions to save lives. The United States is far short of where it needs to be on testing, as well as manufacturing and distributing personal protective equipment and ventilators. The president, flattered by corporate lobbyists, refuses to utilize all the necessary authority under the Defense Production Act to aid in this crisis—and time is of the essence.

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