Week Ending October 9, 2020

Future Pandemic Aid Talks Uncertain

  • President Trump Breaks Off Talks Over Pandemic Relief
  • Senate Judiciary Moves Ahead on Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee

President Trump Breaks Off Talks Over Pandemic Relief

Talks over additional COVID-19 relief between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Trump administration came to an abrupt halt this week when President Donald Trump ended negotiations with Democrats. He said he was delaying action until after the election despite ominous warnings on the economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell had just issued a clear warning that the economic recovery remains fragile and that too little support “would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.” Similar dire warning has come from economists on all sides, as well as reports that past relief wasn’t working to combat the pandemic and stimulate the economy.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued a statement that said, “President Trump has shown the true measure of his callousness and cruelty today. … He has no interest in helping the millions upon millions of working families whose lives have been shattered by this public health and economic crisis – who have lost their jobs, who are struggling to make rent, feed their children and keep the lights on. He doesn’t care about expanding testing and tracing to get this pandemic under control. He has no empathy for parents struggling with young kids at home because schools can’t open safely. He is content to gut the public services that sustain and strengthen every community across the country.”

Trump turns his back on working people. Instead of additional pandemic relief the country needs, including state and local aid, Trump instructed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to direct all his efforts before the election into confirming Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

State and Local Aid Is Urgently Needed

The Senate should be focused on one thing - getting us out of this pandemic and helping our economy recover, including addressing unemployment. But right now, they refuse to do any of that. The Senate should not drop everything to rush a Supreme Court nomination while they refuse to act on our health, safety and economy.

It’s urgent that you call your senators as soon as possible. Congress needs to provide federal funding support before state and local governments are forced to lay off more workers and cut more vital public services.

Please call your senators right now at:
1-888-981-9704

Tell your senators that it’s urgent to fund the front lines NOW. Tell them at least $1 trillion is needed for states, counties and cities, including more funding for Medicaid and education, for essential public services to fight COVID-19 and reopen our economy. For more ways to take action, visit the AFSCME COVID-19 webpage.

Senate Judiciary Moves Ahead on Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to begin consideration of Trump’s nominee to be the next associate justice on the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. She’s now a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The hearing is slated to last four days with opening statements by Barrett on Monday, rounds of questioning by senators on Tuesday, and multiple panels of legal expert testimony on Wednesday and Thursday.

  • Health Care and Pandemic Expected to be Front and Center: As our country continues to struggle with a devastating national pandemic, the hearing is expected to focus on issues of public health and the importance of front-line workers during these challenging times. A number of Democratic senators are also expected to ask Barrett questions about her views on workplace safety and standards, wages and hazard pay, as well as family’s ability to access affordable health care.
  • Barrett Record Undermines Workers’ Rights: This week, Chris Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11, joined Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on a press call to highlight Barrett’s past record undermining workers’ rights. Mabe recounted AFSCME’s fight in Ohio to protect members during COVID-19 by securing PPE. He stated, “First responders and other essential employees don’t have the luxury of staying home or working from home during COVID. That’s why strong unions and union protections are so important right now.”

What You Need to Know: Rushing to confirm a controversial nominee like Barrett so close to an election is wrong and would further put the needs of front-line public service workers in jeopardy. Barrett’s record shows a pattern of dismissing the legitimate concerns of workers and their families. She has also made disparaging comments about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), an issue before the court, and she has issued judicial opinions that prevent workers from receiving fair pay for a fair day’s work. Rather than rushing this nomination, the Senate has more pressing business and should move to consider additional pandemic relief, including vitally needed state and local aid.

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