Letter to Hon. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House; Hon. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader; Hon. Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader; and Hon. Charles Schumer, Senate Minority Leader - Rep. Omar Leads Letter Calling for Additional Relief Checks in Next COVID-19 Package
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell, and Leader Schumer:
We write to convey the indisputable need to including relief checks in the stimulus package currently being negotiated, and to reinforce the call made by countless Americans for continued direct cash payments in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major shocks to the U.S. economy and public health system in our modern history. This pandemic has only worsened existing systemic inequities in our society, with low-wage earners, women, and Black and Latino communities disproportionately suffering from the human and economic toll of the virus. Almost half of all households in the United States reported experiencing serious financial concerns such as running out of savings and not having enough money for basic necessities. Direct cash assistance has become a lifeline for the American people.
We have learned from the CARES Act that the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) saved many families from financial ruin and sheltered the economy as a whole. According to a Census Household Pulse Survey, most respondents used these checks to pay for everyday expenses including food, rents/mortgages, utilities, and other consumer debts. This boost in consumer spending in the second quarter helped to prop up the economy. These cash payments were one of the main reasons why the poverty rate fell in the early months of the pandemic, before beginning to rise again as critical fiscal aid has been depleted or set to expire.
Now that much of the fiscal assistance in the CARES Act has run out, consumer spending is trending downward while COVID-19 cases are spiking across the country. It is clear that we need to provide financial support to those who must stay home, and prevent our most vulnerable populations from being pushed into poverty and homelessness.
This type of cash assistance has already proved to be one of the most effective and most equitable ways to directly support the American people this year. Excluding universal and direct cash relief from the next stimulus will leave behind tens of millions of people who have lost income as well as many struggling individuals who cannot work and those left out of federal support programs. A robust relief package must pair cash assistance programming with increased unemployment insurance (UI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aid to states and localities, and childcare funding. However, direct payments are one of the quickest ways to bring relief to the most people and must be a priority in the next package to ensure that American families will have the unconditional aid they need to support themselves and their local economies during this perilous time in our nation's history.
We hope that you will keep in mind this urgent need as you continue to craft a relief package to help struggling Americans as we reach the end of the year. Our constituents are in great need, and we have a duty to deliver the most effective, most direct assistance possible.
Thank you for your consideration,