The coronavirus health crisis that hit America in the middle of March has compelled Governors to shut down states, requested citizens to stay in their homes and moved Congress to pass an unprecedented stimulus of over two trillion dollars.
As the COVID-19 crisis hit its peak, the Congressional Black Caucus began to fight to “support the needs of Black families, seniors, workers, businesses, and communities. On March 20, the CBC submitted an extensive 11-page proposal to House and Senate leadership with recommendations to support the recovery of Black America.”
The first draft of the COVID-19 Senate stimulus bill focused money to bailout large corporations and the top one percent. But after days of negotiation that included President Trump big footing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the legislation was changed to focus more on the needs of main street Americans.
Those priorities included a higher direct payment to individuals from $600 to $1200. Another change was an additional $500 child tax credit per child and a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. Black Caucus members also added $447 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Several other provisions asked by members of the Congressional Black Caucus were an expansion of unemployment benefits to $600 per week in addition to the base max eligible for unemployment insurance, $15.5 billion in additional funding for SNAP, a temporary moratorium of 6 months for federal student loans and funding the Minority Business Development Agency $10 million to make grants to minority-owned businesses.
There is also a provision adding $1 billion for the Community Services Block Grant and $750 million for Head Start and $4 billion in homeless assistance grants.
The U.S. House is expected to pass the Senate bill on March 27. Other stimulus legislation is expected in the future but Congress is also expected to take much of April off because of days added to the Easter recess in the wake of the COVID crisis.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at [email protected] and on twitter at @LVBurke