WASHINGTON – On a sweeping bipartisan deal, the Senate passed the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history, delivering $2 trillion to government relief to tackle the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on American workers and communities. As the pandemic has grown in the United States, so has the crisis of health, lack of access to medical care, and economic disruption facing millions of people who are directly impacted by the virus or are out of work, with hospitals flooded with new COVID cases. The initial Senate stimulus prioritized bailouts for corporations, with Democrats working to push for stronger worker protections. The bill that passed the Senate ensures $260 billion for unemployment insurance, $150 billion for direct aid to health care institutions, $45 billion for FEMA medical responses (protective gear, safety measures), and direct cash payments to adults and children. Although there is still a $500 billion fund for corporations to use, the provisions for direct bail outs for Big Oil were eliminated.
Responding to passage of the bill, 350.org North America Director Tamara Toles O’Laughlin made the following statement:
“Congress has taken a step in the right direction by prioritizing people over corporations in this relief package. With the help of our supporters, we successfully removed $3 billion in direct handouts to Big Oil. We still reject the corporate bailout fund as a power grab and dirty money transfer. Over the last few days, 350.org supporters made their voices heard by calling Congress and signing more than 12,770 petitions, to demand the people-centered relief we deserve. We thank our champions in Congress for these initial protections that prioritize health and economic relief to those most impacted by the pandemic and its cumulative effects on our communities.
“While we applaud this first step, there is still much more that Congress can do in the long term to uplift people and the planet. Along with immediate relief, we need a long-term, climate-resilient recovery plan that charts a bold path forward to a livable future for all. There is no going back to ‘business-as-usual’ after this pandemic. We need a reboot. Congress must prioritize real climate action that creates millions of jobs, sustains families, responds to systemic inequity, and directly invests in Black, Indigenous, and communities of color facing economic insecurity. The climate crisis is already here, and it is already compounding threats to our economy and health. Let’s learn from the wake up call of this pandemic and act boldly. We must make a downpayment on a regenerative economy to prevent future crises.”