Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats on July 16 unveiled a $350 billion package and said it will end so-called systemic racism and underinvestment in minority communities that have been hard-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dubbed the Economic Justice Act, Democrats said they want to see 10 investments over the next five years to help “communities of color” with health care, jobs, child care, housing assistance, and infrastructure being priorities.
“Long before the pandemic, long before this recession, long before this year’s protests, structural inequalities have persisted in health care and housing, the economy, and education,” Schumer said in a statement.
The Economic Justice Act (pdf) would be partially funded through diverting about $200 billion in unspent funds left over from the CARES Act passed in March, which was designed to offset the economic impact of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Schumer added: “COVID-19 has only magnified these injustices and we must confront them with lasting, meaningful solutions that tear down economic and social barriers, and reinvest in historically underserved communities. The Economic Justice Act is a needed step in a long journey to address systematic racism and historic underinvestment in communities of color.”
Fourteen other Senate Democrats are co-sponsors of the Economic Justice Act.
Federally supported jobs, as well as youth training programs, capital investments in community lenders, and a grant program to low-income families, are included in the package. According to the details of the proposed act, about $135 billion will be spent on such measures.
The other $200 billion will be spent on infrastructure, Medicaid, and a tax credit for down payments on home purchases, they proposed. Expanded high-speed internet access, reducing rent, and reducing utilities would be included for low-income households.
The Senate is slated to return from its several-weeks-long recess on July 20. Members of Congress are expected to intensively debate the provisions of a long-awaited pandemic spending measure that could include more direct payments to Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) previously told reporters he will introduce a Republican aid proposal in response to the House Democrat-approved HEROES Act, worth $3 trillion, that was passed in May. Republicans have said they will not take up the measure, saying it contains too many unnecessary provisions, while also urging Congress to end the CARES Act’s $600-per-week unemployment benefit.
McConnell and other Republicans have increasingly expressed concerns about mounting federal deficits after the CARES Act’s passage.
President Donald Trump and other White House officials have signaled support for another round of stimulus payments in the next aid package. In one interview, Trump said he wants to see direct payments that are greater than what Democrats had proposed in the HEROES Act.