Press Release

AFT Launches Six-Figure Ad Campaign Slamming McConnell on Failure to Pass Stimulus Bill

As Senators Desert Washington, TV and Online Spots Highlight Majority Leader’s Tone-Deaf Call to ‘Pause’ Desperately Needed Relief for Hundreds of Millions of Americans

For Release: 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Contact:

Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603
acrook@aft.org

 WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers today launched a half-million dollar ad buy targeting Mitch McConnell and the Trump administration’s repeated refusal to pass a coronavirus stimulus bill, leaving working families struggling to survive as the economy turns against them. 

“Pause Button,” airing in 30-second and 15-second versions in the crucial Washington, D.C., market, spotlights the Senate majority leader’s callous lack of urgency to strike a deal on funding for schools, hospitals and other essential services, despite tens of millions of job losses and a spiraling COVID-19 surge caused by the federal government’s failure to act.

As the virus continues to wreak havoc across the country, we need billions of dollars in relief to repair the damage to state and local budgets and to pay for child care, personal protective equipment, ventilation systems and other guardrails to safely reopen schools and colleges. But Senators left town last week without any agreement on fresh stimulus, months after the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive $3 trillion relief package, leaving the president to sign a series of inadequate and probably illegal executive orders.

The AFT ads urge Congress to pass a comprehensive coronavirus deal now rather than holding down McConnell’s “pause button” while America suffers irreparable damage.

Unpopular Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is featured in the spots, admitting she has no national plan for schools that are beginning to reopen for in-person instruction without consistent safety protocols and funding for lifesaving protections.

“For more than two months, Mitch McConnell and the White House have been shouting that they want schools and the economy to reopen, while shamefully sitting on their hands and refusing to act on an actual relief package,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “As a result, millions more Americans are unemployed, unable to pay rent and relying on food banks to survive. Signing executive orders that don’t address our real needs, including support for schools and child care, while effectively cutting unemployment and threatening Social Security, is a cynical and cruel political ploy.”

The country is averaging 1,000 COVID-19-related deaths and 60,000 cases per day, and models project nearly 300,000 people could die from COVID-19 by December. So far, 160,000 have died. The total number of cases has topped 5 million, dwarfing other countries of similar stature. And these figures are believed to be underestimates.

The ads, also appearing online, are running for one week in the Washington, D.C., media market on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. On Wednesday, they will begin to air nationally on CNN. They were produced by AL Media.

30-second script

VOICE-OVER: In the midst of a pandemic, he wants to do what?

MITCH MCCONNELL VO: We needed to push the pause button…

Cut to various clips of cable news footage.

VO OF HOST 2: ...5 million cases of the coronavirus...

CLIP OF HOST 3: ...U.S. averaging 1,000 deaths per day…

BETSY DEVOS: There’s not a national plan for reopening.

TRUMP: Put pressure on to open the schools…

CLIP OF PUNDIT: Forced to risk our lives...

CLIP OF TEACHER: I do not feel safe…

VO: Senator, this virus pauses for no one.

VO: Pass a comprehensive coronavirus relief package … NOW.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.