Legislation and Policy for the 4th Emergency-Relief Bill
Indivisible SF (ISF) urges you to adopt three basic principles in drafting the 4th emergency bill responding to the health/economic crisis:
- Well-Up not Trickle-Down. Reject Republican “Trickle-Down” economic policies and bailouts that benefit only those at the top. Fight for “Well-Up” economic programs where financial aid goes to people who have lost their jobs, are homeless, or who are following public-health guidelines to stay at home rather than continuing to work at a nonessential job.
- People Before Corporations. Insist that the great bulk of government recovery funds go to people rather than corporations, financial institutions, or industries. By contrast, the Republican-drafted Senate bill that was enacted into law allocated funds in the wrong ratio: 44% to business, 29% to people, and 27% to state & local governments and agencies.
- Equal Treatment. All emergency-related provisions and benefits must be applied to, and made equally available to, all people residing in the U.S. and its territories, regardless of immigration status or their residence in territories rather than states.
In our opinion, the 4th emergency legislation bill needs to contain provisions such as: I. PROVISIONS for PRESERVING DEMOCRACY
A. Vote-by-mail. Enact the provisions of the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and
Natural Disasters Act of 2020 (HR.6202/S.3440) to prevent the disruption of elections due to natural disasters or infectious diseases, by requiring (among other provisions) vote-by-mail and absentee ballot. Appropriate an additional $1.6B (in addition to the $400M approved in the 3rd emergency bill. B. USPS. Allocate funds to stabilize and expand the U.S. Post Office as an essential communication & delivery service during a pandemic.
II. ECONOMIC EMERGENCY-RELIEF FUNDING PROVISIONS
A. Emergency income. Rather than one-time checks or unemployment benefits, provide sustained income to people who have lost their income due to the emergency. Fully reimburse employers for maintaining workers for their normal hours or work-week on their payroll who have been furloughed, quarantined, or are taking family-leave. Include temp, part-time, & tipped workers. This emergency economic-recovery measure should also be used to bring back on to payroll employees who have been terminated or laid off due to the emergency.
B. Emergency income or benefits. People who were unemployed before the crisis (or who for some reason cannot be returned to payroll) must be provided an adequate income sustained over the duration of the crisis through existing government programs such as Social Security, SNAP, TANF, WIC, unemployment, and so on, with money to be delivered by direct-deposit, EBT card or checks.
C. Waive requirements. Since social-distancing is an essential health-emergency measure, temporarily waive job-seeking requirements and eliminate waiting-periods for the income-replacement programs and benefits listed above. Relax eligibility and work requirements for Medicaid and food & nutrition programs like SNAP, TANF, WIC ect
D. Pensions. Provide money to maintain and stabilize employer and union pension funds that are put at risk by the health economic emergency
E. Sick leave. Since those who are infected (or who may be infected but have not yet been tested and cleared) must be isolated, require and fund all employers to provide adequate paid sick & family leave to employees (including independent contractors and “gig workers” regardless of accrued leave time.
F. Free care. Since this is a public health emergency, all costs for COVID-19 testing, treatment, and recuperation must be completely paid for by the government.
G. Medical equipment. Allocate federal funds and invoke the Defense Production Act to ensure that medical equipment required to treat COVID-19 infections, such as ventilators, are made available fairly distributed as swiftly as possible. Patients should not be charged for any medical equipment or supplies that they might need for treatment once they leave the hospital.
H. PPE. Allocate federal funds and invoke the Defense Production Act to ensure adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is made available to all front-line responders including medical and support staff and others providing essential services requiring contact with significant numbers of people or hazardous materials.
I. Hazard pay. Provide federally-funded “hazard-pay” to medical and support staff and others providing essential services, such as those in essential retail and delivery jobs.
J. Hospitals. Since hospitals are the front line defense against COVID-19 infections, provide federal financial resources to sustain public & nonprofit hospitals, and reopen (and keep open) rural hospitals, community health centers, and Indian Health Service facilities.
K. State & local government. Since state and local government cannot avail themselves of deficit-spending as the federal government can, provide the funds that states and localities need to address the health emergency — including, but not limited to, federal funding of all state Medicaid costs including expansion, money for building & staffing emergency healthcare facilities & treatment centers, and funds for housing for people who need to be quarantined. If necessary, use the Federal Reserve Act to support state and local governments through purchase of short term municipal debt securities
L. House the homeless. Since the homeless are unable to maintain social-distancing and are at greater risk of contracting and spreading infection, provide emergency funding to states and local governments to temporarily house the homeless in empty hotels, motels, college dormitories, convention centers and other facilities.
M. Emergency social-service aid. Provide funding for nonprofit social-service agencies such as food banks, homeless shelters, and senior centers, so they can support increased demand and implement better disease fighting measures.
N. Remote education. Provide emergency funding to public schools for establishment of high-quality remote-learning programs. O. FEMA & EPA. Expand funding for FEMA and the EPA to ensure access to emergency care and clean water and air.
P. Elder care. Fund a national network of service coordinators to assist the elderly. Q. Corporate bailouts. No “no-conditions” corporate bailouts like those done for Wall Street in 2008. Corporations that get tax-payer funds have to agree to conditions that will will apply until all government bailout funds or loans have been paid off. For example: – Commitment to public-benefit over shareholder-value – No reductions in force or layoffs while receiving funds – Board seats for both employee and consumer representatives – No stock buy-backs or dividends to shareholders – Caps on CEO and executive pay packages – Suspension of executive “golden parachute” exit packages – Transparency and limitations on political spending – Criminal & financial penalties for executives who violate rules & regulations
III. PANDEMIC-EMERGENCY POLICY PROVISIONS
1. Protect front-line responders. Issue emergency-related OSHA health and safety standards to protect front line workers.
2. Quarantine income. Require that employees who are quarantined receive full-pay, or in cases where that is impossible, Workers Compensation payments, as if they had been injured on the job.
3. Health insurance waivers. Temporarily waive all length-of-employment, hour-per- week, pre-conditions and other requirements and thresholds for obtaining employer or government-provided health insurance.
4. Homelessness. Since homelessness increases the spread of the virus, institute a national moratorium on all evictions, foreclosures, and repossessions. As a public- health measure, suspend all utility shut-offs (water, power, internet & cell service) and require immediate restoration of services that have been cut off since March 1 due to nonpayment. Prohibit late-payment charges.
5. Federal housing. Temporarily suspend work and community-service requirements in federal housing programs.
6. Restore cuts. Restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense (the “pandemic response team”). Restore CDC funds for preventing global disease outbreaks, the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund and the State Department’s Complex Crisis Fund.
7. Price stabilization. Prohibit price-gouging and aggressively monitor to prevent it.
8. Patents & licenses. Require non-exclusive patents and licenses and fair-pricing for all COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and treatments developed with the aid of government funding.
. 9. Student loans. Impose an immediate moratorium on repayment of all student loans
10. Debt collection. Prohibit debt collection, repossession, and garnishment of wages and with no accrual of owed interest or late fees.
11. Immigration. Suspend all immigration enforcement activities in the national-interior. Release those in temporary immigration-detention, without deportation and enough cash to survive.
12. Science not politics. Require that federal policies, rules, & regulations be based on objective provable facts and peer-reviewed scientific research and that public health decisions are made by health professionals rather than politicians. Ensure that public health decisions are made by public health professionals and not politicians, and ensure that officials engaged in the response do not fear retribution or public disparagement for performing their jobs.
13. Reporting and oversight. Require that regular, complete, and accurate reports & testimony to Congress on the emergency be made by DHS, HHS, CDC, and NIH officials including both political appointees and senior civil service officials. Agencies that receive public funds must be required to promptly and completely respond to congressional subpoenas for testimony and documents.
14. Whistleblower protection. Ensure that the jobs, seniority, pay, and assignments of government employees who report fraud, abuse, mismanagement, misappropriation, discrimination, censorship, and political interference to their agency’s Inspector General or the House Whistleblower Ombudsman be protected.
Many other groups are also developing lists of emergency bill provisions. The above list was in part derived from:
- https://www.epi.org/blog/senate-coronavirus-bill-is-crucial-but-its-a-fraction-of-whats- needed/
- Sunrise is also involved in a similar effort.
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