indica News Bureau-
Expressing her disappointment over HEROES Act passed by the Congress during the COVID-19 crisis, Pramila Jayapal, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Washington state’s 7th District, said that though the act has several important provisions, it fails to match the true scale of the devastating coronavirus crisis. Jayapal, D-Seattle, stood out among 14 House Democrats who voted no Friday on a $3 trillion coronavirus aid package. She argued that the act did not do enough to help distressed workers.
“People across every part of the United States are facing an unprecedented crisis—one that directly impacts their jobs, their health and their daily lives. We have now lost more than 86,000 Americans, almost 30,000 more than we lost during two decades of the Vietnam War,” she wrote in an article. ” At the core, our response from Congress must match the true scale of this devastating crisis. The Heroes Act—while it contains many important provisions—simply fails to do that.”
“I believe we can and must put forward a legislative package that meets the real needs of my constituents and people across the country who are desperate for Congress to have their backs, to help them get money back in their pockets and give them some certainty about being able to pay their bills and put food on the table. A package that ensures everyone has health care, that helps businesses to survive this crisis and that protects the rights of workers to get the pensions they already earned and were counting on.”
While other dissident Democrats were moderates who criticized the measure — dubbed the “HEROES Act” — as expensive and wasteful, Jayapal argued it didn’t go far enough to help distressed workers.
“This legislation does not keep workers in their jobs and guarantee the certainty of paychecks. More than 36 million people have filed for unemployment in only eight weeks and a full 40% of households earning less than $40,000 lost a job in March alone. Mass unemployment is a choice and we cannot wait to let the rate of unemployment rise to 40% or 50%, which it will do if we do not act boldly. This is the highest level of unemployment we have seen since the Great Depression and we cannot sit idly by and only offer half measures or let it rise,” she said further.
She added that the legislation does not guarantee affordable and accessible health care for everyone. “More than 27 million people have lost their health care simply because they lost their job, joining the 87 million people who were already uninsured or underinsured. We are in the midst of a health pandemic that has already taken more than 86,000 lives, with tens of thousands more deaths projected. Now, more than ever, people need to know their access to health care is guaranteed,” she said.
She further pointed out that the legislation did not provide relief to businesses, including small, medium and minority-owned businesses and neither did the new legislation provided enough funding for the public health guidelines so that businesses do not have to worry about putting their workers in harm’s way and re-opening before it is safe to do so. She added that the language used in the legislation threatened the pensions of regular working people and harms collective bargaining, undermining existing pension plans and exposing retirees to greater risks.
“At a time when we should be strengthening collective bargaining and worker power, this legislation does the opposite. I believe we can and must choose differently. That is why I will vote against this legislation,” she wrote.
Proposing a package that helped people meet their real needs and guarantees them money back in their pockets to pay the bills, she said there was a need for a legislation that could help businesses survive and protected the rights of the workers.
“I believe we can and must put forward a legislative package that meets the real needs of my constituents and people across the country who are desperate for Congress to have their backs, to help them get money back in their pockets and give them some certainty about being able to pay their bills and put food on the table. A package that ensures everyone has health care, that helps businesses to survive this crisis and that protects the rights of workers to get the pensions they already earned and were counting on,” she said.
The Seattle Times reported that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, lambasted the Democratic plan as frivolous.
“This is a crisis, and I’m anxious to talk seriously about addressing the devastation happening to our economy, but this is not a serious bill,” she said, criticizing the measure as a “partisan wish list” which failed to fund programs for rural schools and the Forest Service, while giving “economic impact payments to illegal immigrants and funding for sanctuary cities.”
Washington’s other two Republican House members, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver, and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, also voted against the proposal.
“I choose differently for so many who not only tell me they lost their jobs and lost their employer-sponsored health care too, but they can’t afford COBRA and have decided to ‘risk it’ instead, while insurance companies scoop up additional subsidies from this package,” added Jayapal.