With all of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, I want to make sure you know what I’m fighting for in Washington D.C.
There are some lessons I hope we have learned from other crises of the last two decades, like 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis. We need to focus on helping the people WHO NEED IT THE MOST, not the most politically connected and special interests.
Time and money are scarce, and we cannot afford to waste either.
House Leadership is working with the administration on a program to give Americans relief now as we deal with this pandemic. Here are the highlights we are trying to approve today:
- Free COVID-19 testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured, regardless of income.
- Emergency paid family and medical leave programs that cover up to three months of pay, as well as increased unemployment compensation that is accessible for all workers.
- Enhanced unemployment insurance, a first step that will extend protections to furloughed workers.
- Flexibility for food assistance programs to stop the employment requirements to receive assistance, as well as emergency food for local food banks to meet increased demand.
- Increase in federal funds for Medicaid as states face increased costs.
This is a good start, but we need more. Among my main concerns are Oregonians who work in hourly wage jobs, the service industry, and the gig economy that are going to be hit very hard by this crisis. Here are some things I am fighting for that are critically important for Oregonians:
- For those unemployed as a result of COVID-19, I’m working to secure benefits that would be available through the end of 2020 and can be paid retroactively. Importantly, Social Security trust funds must be held harmless.
- Protect small businesses up to 50 employees and reimburse the costs of providing the 14 days of additional paid sick leave used by employers during a public health emergency. It's imperative that hard hit small businesses are able to provide their employees with the protections they need without bankrupting the companies.
- Employers must also be required to provide paid sick leave, available immediately, in the event of a public health emergency. This includes missing work when your child’s school is closed or you or a family member is quarantined or isolated as a result of the outbreak.
- The federal government should pay for emergency food and nutrition services for our most vulnerable populations, including school meals and meals for low-income older adults.
It is critical we all know the facts and what we should do. Oregonians should stay updated with the latest information on the Oregon Health Authority website.
It is important to remain calm and resilient in the face of this crisis. I'm fighting as hard as I can to make sure that Oregonians are protected, healthy, and safe.