The next time I meet Mitch McConnell in the fresh vegetable aisle at my local Kroger store, I will say I am glad we both like healthy food, but I really want to talk about the health of the nation. We are starving for leadership. We are starving for leaders who put the common good before partisan “victories.
On your desk, Senator is a bill from House leadership sent two months ago. This bill will continue to provide $600 a week for those unemployed until January. Without this money, you will not find them shopping at Kroger. This bill will also help those facing eviction. States and cities running out of financial resources would receive much-needed help.
As we move forward in the “perfect storm” — a monster pandemic, the effects of systemic racism, and economic collapse, we need to face our quicksand reality and “speak up” and “stand up,” using John Lewis’ model.
In this bleak scene, there are 21 million unemployed in the United States, or an estimated 47.2% according to CNBC. Millions face eviction, and over 155,000 have died from COVID 19.
In response to this crisis, the Republican party leadership has proposed the following bill:
- No money for food assistance
- $8 billion in funding for weapons, including $686 million for F-35 fighter jets.
- No hazard pay or safety standards for workers
- A sweeping corporate immunity proposal that threatens the lives of workers
- No extension of the federal moratorium on evictions.
- Significant reduction of enhanced unemployment benefits
- No meaningful relief for state and local government.
- Under-investments in COVID-19 testing and health care— even while there is a push to reopen schools and businesses.
- Renovations of the West Wing and a new FBI building
According to the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, between 19 million and 23 million families across the country that pay rent are at risk of losing their homes by September 30.
As more “essential workers” continue to serve a country in crisis, we need to be “essential citizens” who call or write our senators to urge passage of a bill that leaves no one behind, a bill that focuses on the most vulnerable, a bill that is truly “pro-life.”