The following is a statement from Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, on the urgent need to pass an additional bipartisan COVID-relief package before the end of the year:
“Congress must act to extend critical COVID-19 relief programs before the end of the month, and then turn its focus towards adopting the sustainable policies required for a durable recovery as the vaccine is distributed. We are pleased to see a group of bipartisan House and Senate members calling for a framework that is consistent with BPC recommendations. It is also encouraging that talks are resuming between Democratic leaders and the White House.
“Congress must act with both urgency and restraint, and not seek to turn emergency relief into permanent policy. Instead, we urge lawmakers to prioritize measures that would most directly assist in the fight against COVID-19 and its economic fallout.
“BPC recommends that Congress focus on the following:
- Reinstate a supplemental weekly unemployment insurance benefit; also, extend temporary programs that support gig workers, contractors, the long-term unemployed, and many others not covered by traditional UI.
- Distribute further aid to the hardest-hit small businesses to enable them to survive and keep their workers employed.
- Provide modest additional fiscal support to state and local governments, which continue to face budget pressures.
- Enact a “lookback” provision for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, ensuring that low- and moderate-income households facing employment disruptions continue to receive the crucial support provided by these refundable credits.
- Temporarily extend the moratorium on federal student loan payments and interest; expand the moratorium to include FFEL and Perkins loans, which are currently ineligible for these benefits.
- Extend and broaden the temporary paid leave programs that have provided support to parents affected by school closures and workers impacted by COVID-19.
- Provide liability protection for those employers who act in good faith and comply with guidelines from public health authorities.
- Provide flexible emergency rental assistance to prevent millions of families from losing their homes when the federal eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year.
- Offer stabilization funding to the child care industry, ensuring working parents can rely on these programs as they get back to work.
- Provide additional funding for the public health measures needed to respond to the crisis, including testing as well as vaccine distribution.
“The latest news on the development of a vaccine is greatly encouraging, but a return to normal economic activity remains a long way off. In the meantime, Congress must continue to provide the economy and American families the support needed to save as many lives and livelihoods as possible.”