Costa, Thompson, Eshoo, McNerney Urge Senate Not to Slash Unemployment Income for 30 Million American Workers

Aug 5, 2020
Press Release

(FRESNO, CA) Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) and Representatives Mike Thompson (CA-05), Anna Eshoo, and Jerry McNerney (CA-09) held a call with regional reporters today urging the Senate not slash the emergency unemployment income 30 million American workers, including 3.6 million Californian, are relying on during the pandemic.

Two months ago, the House passed legislation known as the Heroes Act to extend the full $600 weekly emergency unemployment payments and other critical lifelines for workers and families amid the Coronavirus pandemic. With only days before the deadline, the Senate released a plan to slash emergency unemployment income for families and workers by hundreds of dollars a week during the crisis.

“Americans are struggling and they need help now”, said Costa. “Congress passed the Heroes Act in May to ensure people get the relief they need to feed their families and pay their rent. It is simply unacceptable for the Senate to spend 11 weeks sitting on their hands while Americans struggle to make ends meet.”

“People in my district are struggling to get by right now – they’ve lost jobs through no fault of their own and the expanded unemployment insurance is a lifeline for them and their families. That money allows them to put food on the table, pay their rent, put gas in the car and stay afloat. That’s why I voted to pass the Heroes Act over two months ago. It included an extension of this important program and it’s why the Senate must pass the Heroes Act now and ensure that provision stays in a final Coronavirus relief package. People need our help and they need it now,” said Rep. Thompson.

“The pandemic has brought our country to its knees and tens of millions of Americans need help to stay afloat during this unprecedented crisis. The House passed the HEROES Act eleven weeks ago to extend unemployment benefits, assistance to homeowners and renters, and food for families. The resources to states and local governments will keep essential public sector services in place, and enjoys the bipartisan support of our nation’s governors and mayors,” said Rep. Eshoo. “COVID-19 continues to ravage our economy and our people and the Senate should not be complicit in holding the people of our country as hostages in one of the greatest hours of need in our history.”

“California started the year with a 3.9% unemployment rate, but because the Trump Administration has ignored science, the COVID-19 crisis has skyrocketed unemployment to 14.9% – a testament to the significant financial damage and hardship that this virus is inflicting on people’s lives,” said Rep. McNerney. “My district is one of the most recent to be declared a hotspot in the state, and like many other areas throughout the country, we are in need of more resources, not less. Reducing unemployment benefits at a time when our nation is still grappling with the rapid spread of this disease is reprehensible, and it forces Americans to choose between their health and their basic needs.”

On top of slashing unemployment income, the Senate Republican plan fails workers and families because it:

  • Fails to expand SNAP for families struggling to keep food on the table;
  • Fails to extend the eviction moratorium, while refusing to provide rental or mortgage assistance to families on the brink of eviction;
  • Provides no state and local funding to pay our heroes: our health workers, first responders, teachers, food, transit and sanitation workers and other frontline heroes risking their lives every day to keep the economy running;
  • Hands liability immunity to employers who do not protect workers’ health and safety;  
  • Tries to bully schools to reopen without the resources to reopen safely and failing to provide adequate resources;
  • Fails to expand broadband to help kids who need it for school or Americans who telework or have telehealth appointments;
  • Offers no help for victims of domestic violence, despite cases skyrocketing during the lockdown;
  • Provides zero election funding or Post Office assistance;
  • Refuses to have a strategic and well-funded, science-based testing plan;
  • Abandons communities of color, with no assistance for the Black and other minority communities who are being disproportionately devastated by COVID-19.

The House plan, known as the Heroes Act, will extend full emergency unemployment insurance, protect the paychecks of frontline workers, provide direct payments of up to $6,000 for families who are struggling, support small businesses and invest in the testing needed to reopen our economy safely.