To Pass the COVID-19 Stimulus Americans Need, We Must Win in Georgia

This week, the United States set a chilling new milestone: 300,000 total deaths from COVID-19.

The grim reality is, the coronavirus has claimed not just lives, but livelihoods. Americans are on the brink, and the economic effects of this public health crisis are staggering:

  • 1 million Americans are applying for new unemployment benefits every week.
  • 25 million are going hungry, and lines at food banks are stretching upwards of five hours.
  • 40 million are at risk of eviction, as we count down the days to Christmas.

Since Congress passed the CARES Act in March, its relief provisions have either already expired or will expire in a matter of weeks. The $600 boost in unemployment benefits ran its course in July. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, designed to support gig workers and self-employed Americans, will expire on December 26. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which pays an extra three months of benefits to the jobless, ends on the same day. All in all, 14 million unemployed Americans will be left in the cold, absent last-minute congressional action.

A CDC-imposed eviction moratorium will also end on December 31. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, 19 million tenants are currently unable to afford rent, many of them essential workers. A recent study showed that deteriorating eviction protections has resulted in homelessness and hundreds of thousands of additional coronavirus cases.

Further, the CARES Act instituted a moratorium on student loan payments that expires at the end of the year. 42 million borrowers, some of whom have experienced major changes in their finances since March, will have to pay up in January.

The Current Congress is Unable to Reach a Deal

While critical government programs are coming dangerously close to expiration, Republicans have repeatedly blocked every single bill to extend benefits.

In May, House Democrats passed the HEROES Act, an ambitious $3 trillion measure that would have distributed urgent financial support to state and local governments, as well as $100 billion in rental assistance, $75 billion in mortgage relief, and a round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

Senate Republicans called the bill “dead on arrival”.

House Democrats returned with a $2.2 trillion proposal in October.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans stonewalled again. “I am rejecting their request,” tweeted President Trump, less than a day after being released from Walter Reed Medical Center for COVID-19.

Over two months later, Congress has still failed to act, despite negotiations being pared down to a paltry stimulus of $900 billion that will not include critical aid to local governments, many of which have exhausted their budgets fighting the pandemic. The bill will likely feature stimulus checks of under $700, almost half of what Democrats proposed in October. Discussions are ongoing regarding an additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefits; again, far short of the $600 unemployment boost that helped keep many Americans afloat until late July.

Even if Congress comes to an agreement in the coming days, reprogramming government websites could take weeks, and millions of Americans will inevitably see their benefits lapse.

The truth is, our ailing economy needs a new stimulus in the trillions, not hundreds of billions. Americans are crying out for bold legislation that will distribute substantial stimulus checks to every family, provide lasting relief to renters, and throw a financial lifeline to city governments that are struggling to keep their first responders employed. We are in urgent need of a Congress that will take this crisis seriously.

On December 14 — the first day of early voting in Georgia — Progressive Turnout Project staff worked as Vote Triplers outside polling places across Georgia. In this relational organizing program, voters are asked to text three friends before they leave, asking them to vote as well. Hearing that message from someone you know is more effective than any TV ad.

An Economic Recovery Hinges on Winning in Georgia

How do we get there from here? By winning the Senate.

This coming January, millions of Georgians will be marching on the ballot boxes to vote on not one, but two Senate seats. If Democrats emerge victorious in these races, they will gain control of the Senate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will be able to put forward a trillion-dollar stimulus that delivers the relief Americans need.

In Georgia, Democrats have introduced two promising Senate candidates with a proven track record of leadership and empathy. Reverend Raphael Warnock was raised in Savannah public housing and went on to serve as Senior Pastor at Atlanta’ Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King once preached. Jon Ossoff is an investigative journalist and former national security aide.

Their two Republican opponents, who combine for a net worth of over a billion dollars, have spent much of the campaign fighting an insider trading scandal and accusations that they accrued profits for themselves while publicly downplaying COVID-19. Privately, even Senate Majority Leader McConnell has admitted that Republican inaction on stimulus checks has damaged their Georgia campaign efforts.

Progressive Turnout Project is working hard to win these two Senate seats in Georgia. Our volunteers have written 4.7 million postcards to Georgia voters, urging them to turn out. Our expansive phone program has made over 4.8 million calls to Democrats reminding them to vote-by-mail, vote in-person, or reach out to election officials for more information.

In the coming days, we’ll be launching an in-person initiative in Georgia that uses cutting-edge relational organizing techniques to ensure that every voter is mobilizing their friends to head to the polls.

We’re invested in this fight — our public health and economic recovery is counting on it.

To do your part and join Progressive Turnout Project’s Georgia outreach efforts, join one of our Turnout2020 volunteer phone banks.

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