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Legislation was more than 100 days late, woefully inadequate, and had no chance of passing

WASHINGTON, DC — More than 100 days after the House passage of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which would make critical domestic investments in the face of COVID-19, and nearly 50 days since introducing their initial feeble attempt, the Senate majority forced a failing vote today on a “skinny” COVID-19 relief package. The grossly inadequate proposal not only failed to provide the basic health, economic, and election support people need in this crisis — it had no chance of gaining the support needed to pass, or even the full support of the majority. This bill was nothing more than a stunt — workers and families need urgent help now, not political theater.

While the Senate majority stalled on needed relief efforts during the past several months, U.S. cases of COVID-19 crossed the 6 million mark, with over 190,000 lives lost, and economic recovery has remained largely out of reach for people with lower incomes. Globally, the virus has magnified inequalities in outcomes and access to health care. And due to structural racism and centuries of underinvestment in communities of color in the U.S., creating barriers to health care, Black, Latino and Indigenous people continue suffering the most from this crisis, becoming infected and dying at disproportionate rates. 

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate communities across the country and around the world, the Senate has — yet again — barely scratched the surface of a meaningful response to this crisis. We need our leaders to be bold and put the interests of people first, especially Black and Latino communities, and people with lower incomes, most impacted by this virus. Today’s vote on this inadequate bill was an offensive, cynical act of political theater that does nothing for the millions of people suffering — it was never even meant to succeed. There’s so much to be done to address the physical, emotional, and economic damage caused by this disease and the administration's failed response to its spread. With every wasted moment, lives are lost. The Senate can and must develop a real relief proposal — and they have to do it now.”

With less than 60 days until Election Day, the majority’s proposal fails to properly support the United States Postal Service and denies states the desperately needed $3.6 billion in federal funds to support extended early in-person voting periods, broadened voter registration options, voter education, expanded vote-by-mail, adding secure drop off locations for ballots, and ensuring safe and secure in-person voting. More than a month after people lost critical unemployment benefits, the Senate bill also would restore only half of this desperately needed support. The proposal also does not provide adequate funding for testing and treatment to fight the pandemic, for supporting the census to ensure equitable distribution of resources in the future, or making necessary investments in global health programs and partners.

Tragically, the bill focuses instead on pandering to individual senators’ unrelated wishlists, and providing political cover. As the pandemic continues to take lives and devastate lower income households and communities, the Senate majority is still wasting time.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.

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