WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, on Wednesday called for robust legislative measures to aid workers and families across the country who will be directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Murphy laid out what he wants to see in a future relief package to help Connecticut’s workers, families, and medical professionals. This includes: (1) immediately sending a $2,000 check to every adult and child to brunt the burden of COVID-19; (2) a 15% increase in benefits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and a suspension of work requirements for up to 14 months; (3) an increase in funding to make sure food banks are stocked with the necessary food and supplies; (4) address homelessness, including payments to workers, institute medical safety protocols, and meet emerging needs; (5) necessary funding to hospitals to make sure they have the resources to handle a surge in capacity; (6) ensuring individuals impacted by the coronavirus who are unable to work due to quarantine aren’t evicted from their homes; and (7) delaying mortgage payments for this month and waive the late payments as it relate to COVID-19.
“This is a minute by minute crisis for families in Connecticut, and Congress needs to get real help down to families, hospitals, businesses, and feeding centers right now,” said Murphy. “Our first priority has to be stopping the virus. No economic stimulus will save the economy if the virus continues to spread. That's why I'm proposing massive assistance to hospitals that are expanding testing and bed capacity to meet the surge in demand. And President Trump has to stop downplaying the seriousness of the epidemic and solve the testing crisis.”
Murphy continued: "But we do need to take emergency steps to rescue the economy, and I'm proposing a cash payment to families all across the country of $2,000 per person and $2,000 per family that will save both families and local economies from ruin.”
Specifically, Murphy has called for the following to help Connecticut workers, families, and small businesses:
- Cash payments: Congress should send $2,000 checks to every man, woman, and child to brunt the economic impact of the COVID-19 public health epidemic. These checks should be sent out immediately and should continue quarterly while the public health epidemic continues. These payments can help Americans stay in their homes, pay bills, and support local businesses.
- SNAP: Congress should increase the maximum SNAP benefit by 15% and suspend work requirements for SNAP recipients subject to work requirements for 14 months
- Food Banks: Congress should continue to provide increases to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which helps ensure food banks are stocked with necessary food and supplies.
- Schools and Childcare: Murphy is a cosponsor of the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act and supports aid to schools and early education programs including:
- $1.2 billion in mandatory funding to help schools impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
- $600 million in mandatory funding to assist early care and education programs, including funding to help pay staff.
- $1.2 billion in mandatory funding for colleges so they can help students pay for the unexpected costs of college closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including food, housing, health care, and child care needs.
- Grants to students: Increased funding for the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant to help provide financial aid for low-income and vulnerable students.
- Diaper assistance: Additional support to assist state or nonprofit diaper banks to meet increased demand for low-income Americans during the emergency.
- Additional Support for Hospitals: In order to address the COV-19 epidemic, Congress should authorize the following supports to hospitals and health care workers:
- Financial support for hospitals having to renovate or alter existing space to handle surge capacity, including through low-cost SBA loans.
- Provide targeted support for health care workers for childcare services.
- Support Connecticut’s Medicaid programs by delaying scheduled cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments and preventing an administration proposed rule that limits states’ ability to finance their Medicaid program
- Push for a better distribution system for government stockpile of ventilators and personal protective equipment
- TANF: Provide additional funding for the Emergency Contingency Fund for State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs.
- Address Homelessness: Provide additional resources to states to increase capacity at homeless shelters, pay workers, institute medical safety protocols, and meet emerging needs.
- Evictions and foreclosures: Provide additional resources to states and state housing authorities to ensure that people who are quarantined or otherwise cannot work due to coronavirus are not evicted or foreclosed upon.
- Mortgages: Allow mortgage payments to be delayed or deferred for this month and direct mortgage services and lenders to not penalize late payments for a specific period of time related to COVID-19 response.