The Senate is scheduled to leave for a two-week break on July 3rd. We expect them to start negotiating a new coronavirus relief package soon. Meanwhile, the House will have votes next week, committee work the following two weeks, and votes again starting July 20. Police reform legislation passed the House and is stalled in the Senate.
Next Relief Package
The House passed its Heroes bill, with $3 trillion in relief, back in May. The Senate Republicans have refused to even discuss what the next package would look like, saying that first they needed to see how the relief passed so far would play out. Reports indicate that they want to cap the next bill at $1 trillion. Reports also indicate that they want to wait until nearly the end of July, when the $600/week additional unemployment insurance benefit expires, to put more pressure on Democrats. In one piece of good news, Senators Rubio and Tillis and Representative Diaz-Balart introduced legislation to partially correct the problem of family members of ITIN filers (ITINS are the numbers used in place of social security numbers by undocumented workers to file their taxes) being denied stimulus payments under the CARES Act. Under these new proposals, if U.S. citizens or permanent residents file taxes as married filing jointly with an ITIN holder, they could claim the stimulus payment for themselves and their children. However, U.S. citizen children would still be ineligible to receive the payment unless they are claimed by a parent with a social security number. Therefore, these bills would help fewer than half of the children who did not receive stimulus payments under the CARES Act.
The Administration is apparently somewhere in between the House and Senate, at about $2 trillion. Larry Kudlow, White House Economic Council Director, said that the Trump administration would consider another round of direct payments to those who lost their jobs or are in most need. Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin told reporters that in the next bill they will be “more targeted, more focused on jobs, bringing back jobs and making sure we take care of our kids”. The last part is reportedly directed mostly toward school re-openings. The President is also interested in investing in infrastructure. The Chair of the Federal Reserve is encouraging a big investment, and so are a number of prestigious economists.
If you want to work on the federal legislation, the overarching messages are that Congress must act now, and must enact a large comprehensive package that addresses all of children’s needs, including family income supports, child care, child protective systems, nutrition, education, housing, and funding for state and local governments so they don’t have to cut state programs when they are needed most. It is important to reach out to all senators; we are seeing some movement on child care from across the political spectrum. It is also important to lift up the need to support children in immigrant families; families with an undocumented worker did not get the stimulus payment and undocumented workers do not get unemployment benefits.
One provision we haven’t shared information about before is homevisiting. Advocates are reaching out to senators to ensure that the $100 million in emergency funding from HEROES Act includes the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. If you choose to advocate, you can use this resource from rapid response. Here are advocacy tools to extend Medicaid and CHIP coverage for a minimum of 12 months postpartum.
There is a long laundry list of specific provisions to support. If you have questions, please ask them on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond there so everyone gets the answer. (Let us know if you want to be added to that list serve.)
If you want to show your members of Congress what we know about how families are faring so far, there is new evidence that what has been enacted has protected people from poverty and hunger. Two new research studies indicate that assistance from the Cares Act is protecting people from poverty, (at least once their unemployment benefits are processed-the antiquated systems have meant weeks and months of delays in every state) but that effect will expire if the supplemental unemployment benefits do. The study from Columbia University is here Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University: The CARES Act Could Reduce Poverty to Pre-Crisis Levels if Access is Adequate and here Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University: The CARES Act and Poverty in the COVID-19 Crisis Supplemental Analysis. In a separate study, Bruce D. Meyer and Jeehoon Han of the University of Chicago and James X. Sullivan of Notre Dame, analyzing Census Bureau survey data, found that incomes rose among needy Americans in April, despite cresting unemployment, as government payments began.
You can find information on employment, hunger, housing, medical care and education in your state from the Census Household Pulse Survey here (and 15 metro areas): https://www.census.gov/data-tools/demo/hhp/#/ You can find the USC survey data here. At our suggestion, the USC researchers are considering a module on parents’ plans about whether they will send their kids back to child care (and if so what kind) and schools. You can get a prediction of the impact on people of color here: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: The Impact of the COVID19 Recession on the Jobs and Incomes of Persons of Color.
In addition, there is an important new report from Raj Chetty and his colleagues at Opportunity Insights showing that as COVID-19 infections increased in March, high-income households sharply reduced their spending, so that businesses in the most affluent neighborhoods in America lost more than 70% of their revenue and laid off their employees. Nearly 70% of low-wage workers working in the highest-rent ZIP codes lost their jobs, compared with 30% in the lowest-rent ZIP codes. They argue that the policy efforts to date – stimulus payments to households and Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses – have not led to a rebound in spending at the businesses that lost the most revenue, presumably because the customers do not feel safe (and because their reduced spending was never a function of lost income) As a result, the policy provisions have had a limited impact on the employment rates of low income workers, and we need to keep supporting those workers until the economy can recover once people feel safe.
The Coalition on Human Needs, as part of its efforts to raise awareness of the need for another comprehensive and speedy COVID-19 relief package, will be releasing state COVID-19 factsheets and working with Public News Service to release news stories highlighting these factsheets with state organizations. If you would like to work with them, or know of a state organization you’d like them to work with, please contact Nicolai Haddal: email@example.com or reach out to Jasmine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The House Ways and Means Committee introduced a bill for child care relief and recovery funding. The bill expands the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, creates a new tax credit for parents and providers, and increases child care funding by $billion for the next four years. This bill, which addresses entitlement funding, is a great long-term companion to the Child Care is Essential Act, which addresses appropriations (discretionary) funding.
Advocates can still encourage senators to include at least $50 billion in child care funding in the next relief package.
Here are some suggestions from the National Women’s Law Center:
House Infrastructure Legislation
The House is also developing infrastructure legislation, called the Moving Forward Act. It would cost $1.5 trillion and would include
Because the President has indicated interest in infrastructure in the next coronavirus package, we might see some of these provisions there.
Both House and Senate are also trying to move appropriations. This is the last year with overall approprations caps. While last year’s deal did raise these somewhat, they are still very tight. The discretionary spending increase for FY2020 was 4 percent. The discretionary spending increase for FY2021 is at .8 percent. We hoped that they would agree to treat some veterans spending as outside the caps, but so far that has not been finalized. Accordingly, advocates are seeking to include funding provisions for emergency relief (emergency relief does not count against the caps) in the annual FY2021 spending bills for families most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic if more relief is not included in the next package legislation. Specifically, they are seeking increased allocations for the following subcommittees:
The House passed the Justice in Policing Act on largely partisan lines (236 to 181); three Republicans voted in favor of the bill. The Congressional Black Caucus, which led the effort to develop the bill, tried to get Republican support, but failed over the issue of qualified immunity-that is, whether police officers can be held personally liable in civil actions. (Victims can and do sue the government agencies.) In the Senate, a bill sponsored by Tim Scott of South Carolina was blocked by Democrats because it didn’t include some essential elements including banning chokeholds and eliminating qualified immunity. The twenty amendments that Democrats were suggesting would not have been seriously considered by Republicans. It is currently viewed as unlikely that a revised bill will get to the floor in this Congress but if protests continue that could change. Senator McConnell in a procedural move switched his vote to oppose Tim Scott’s bill in order to be able to bring it up again later. He may bring it up to the floor to do a side-by-side with the Justice in Policing Act; however, McConnell is mainly getting pressure to focus on COVID 19 and the National Defense Authorization Act. You can review a comparison of the two bills here.
The House bill lays the groundwork for relatively quick passage of legislation in the next Congress should control of the Senate switch after the elections. There are few juvenile justice provisions in either the House or Senate bills. Advocates are trying to encourage the reauthorization of the Juvenile Accountability Blog Grant (JABG) or Valid Court Order (VCO) phase out.
President Trump has issued an order on policing that was widely viewed as modest; it did include a national data base of excessive force complaints.
Partnership for America’s Children