Senate Republicans Could Cause Humanitarian Catastrophe
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, today issued the following statement on Republican opposition to extending further assistance to the American people amid the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic:
“There is a dangerous disconnect between Republican politicians in Washington and the very real anguish being experienced by the American people. That suffering may become a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe if average people and local communities are denied help from the federal government and left to fend for themselves.
“This economic collapse is an emergency. Tens of millions of Americans – one in five workers – just lost their jobs, and government aid is the only thing preventing many from losing their homes or starving. Yet, Republicans want to shut off unemployment benefits, force states to make further, disastrous cuts to crucial services, and sharply reduce access to food programs like SNAP.
“If enacted, these policy changes could ensure that the recession becomes a depression. The expanded unemployment benefits replaced an estimated half of Americans’ lost wages in April. Removing that support while eliminating access to food, shelter, and health care would inflict untold suffering and could cause widespread civic unrest.
“There is broad agreement among economists that Congress needs to pass much more stimulus to help the economy recover. Cutting back federal assistance at the height of the crisis would mean self-inflicted disaster, devastation, and additional deaths. That must not happen.”
Beyer, the top Democrat on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, recently introduced the legislative framework for the bicameral Worker Relief and Security Act, which would tie expanded unemployment benefits to the public health emergency and economic conditions using automatic stabilizers.