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Congress Debates Economic Priorities and Response
Congress is considering a new supplemental package to address the economic impacts of COVID-19. We thank lawmakers for the measures already taken to help our nation through this pandemic. As negotiations continue, lawmakers need to hear from faith-based advocates. As impacts cascade, ministry demands expand and more workers are left without employment, our role to care for our community and each other is more valuable than ever.
Based upon ELCA Advocacy priorities, here highlighted are critical issues being discussed in conjunction with federal support. A unique letter in your faith-informed voice, discussing what is happening in your location and in your and your congregation’s experience, can have impact. Consider these critical issues that affect those of us in the greatest need and raise your view with your lawmakers. Refer to additional information on these points in a longer letter to ELCA Advocacy network members.
- HUNGER RESPONSE: In any economic crisis, the risk of hunger always increases in our communities as unemployment and financial hardships rise. Congress should increase the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit by 15 percent during this emergency to ensure households have enough resources to avoid the hard choice of choosing between paying for their bills or for food.
- INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE: Because of the scale of this global crisis, more resources are needed to address the needs of vulnerable communities around the world. The next COVID-19 bill must include addition funding resources in international assistance to ensure effective global responses that will protect all of us here at home and around the world.
- MIGRATION RESPONSE: Expand access to care to ensure all immigrants can access testing, treatment and needed assistance. The national coronavirus stimulus package that was passed by Congress didn’t include migrant workers, documented and undocumented, although many of these workers are considered “essential.” The needs of undocumented and documented immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers must be taken into account and addressed in the fourth COVID-19 stimulus package.
- FARMWORKER FOCUS: Farmworkers should be eligible for paid sick leave or unemployment insurance in all states, regardless of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The federal government must also ensure that all workers, regardless of their immigration status, are afforded free testing to determine whether they have COVID-19, as well as the medical care that they need.
- CHILDCARE PROVIDER FOCUS: Congress should list childcare facilities as examples of small business recipients for aid, such as recovery microgrants. Families require childcare in order to return to work.
- IMMIGRATION DETENTION FOCUS: Reducing the number of people in immigration detention centers by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as soon as possible, particularly low-flight-risk detainees, would promote lifesaving. Deaths from influenza have occurred in federal detention centers, including deaths of minors, highlighting dire conditions and lapses in care.
- ELECTIONS FOCUS: Many states need additional funding for voter registration, absentee voting and other election costs to ensure that the integrity of our democracy is not impacted from the coronavirus crisis. Resources should be provided for states to conduct free, fair and safe elections.
- CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION FOCUS: Allowing taxpayers to deduct much more than $300 in charitable contributions would immensely help houses of worship and non-profit organizations which are facing declines in contributions but continue their service work in our communities.
- HOUSING RESPONSE: Initial reports indicate that people who are experiencing homelessness and contract COVID-19 are much more likely to be hospitalized and require critical care than the general public. Providing additional housing funding and broadening a freeze on evictions could also help prevent homelessness and save costs in the long run