WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others unveiled highlights of the Republican proposal for the latest coronavirus economic relief package:
“Time is running out. The initial COVID-19 relief protections against eviction and the enhanced unemployment benefits either have expired or will expire soon. And states and schools don’t have the resources to reopen safely, even in places where the virus is contained. Unfortunately, this offer is not better late than never—it’s just late.
“The relief McConnell has offered doesn’t match the scale of this crisis. The funds proposed for K-12 public schools, colleges and universities are woefully inadequate given the expenses schools will face to reopen safely, expenses for things like additional staff, infrastructure improvements, personal protective equipment and cleaning. It also falls dramatically short by ignoring what schools actually need to reopen safely and, instead, prioritizes the president’s political agenda, tying the funding to in-person instruction and pushing for private school vouchers. Moreover, it includes no new funding to help states, cities and towns recovering from cratering tax revenues—in contrast to the more than $1 trillion offered in the House-passed HEROES Act. Without some federal aid for state and local budgets, we can expect millions more layoffs, and devastating cuts to the very programs families are relying on, including food assistance, unemployment and healthcare.
“To rub salt in the wound, while this proposal includes no protections for workers on the frontlines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, it does include a nice bailout for corporations and other employers to limit their liability if employees get sick on the job. If McConnell claims to be doing what’s best for the majority of people in this country, he and his colleagues sure have a strange way of showing it. This bill falls far short of what’s necessary to help regular people come out the other side of this crisis.”