March 23, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) called on Congress to include specific response measures in future coronavirus stimulus packages to provide economic relief and expand public health resources to protect and bolster the safety and security of the American people. As conversations continue to unfold, Rep. Peters is advocating urgent help for the elderly, veterans, students, low and middle-income workers, small business owners, the homeless community, our immigrant communities and those who work in tourism, travel and health care.
“The House has taken steps to address some of the immediate effects the coronavirus pandemic is having on millions of American households,” said Rep. Peters. “Now we must build on our work to get urgent help to those who need it most. I am fighting for critical priorities to ensure the safety and security of San Diegans and people across the country and am working to integrate these crucial measures into future relief packages.”
Rep. Peters’ priorities include:
- Send direct payments to individuals immediately. Each adult should receive at least $1,000. At the end of the year, if you’ve made more than an agreed income target, you should have to pay back your check as part of your tax bill. This ensures a rapid infusion of cash into the economy, which ultimately will not benefit those who don’t need it.
- Support payments to companies for payroll as long as they agree to maintain employment and the money is targeted to employees who make under $80,000 per year.
- Place a 90 day pause on mortgage payments at the election of the borrower, with three months payment added to the end, with interest calculated so that it is neutral to the lender and borrower.
- Suspend federal student loan payments, and hold harmless anyone enrolled in Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, a program requiring continuous payments to facilitate loan forgiveness.
- Expand protections for veterans by allowing VA to continue to pay student veterans for work-study by incorporating the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act, which Rep. Peters has cosponsored.
- Establish automatic triggers for additional economic assistance without Congressional approval. This would have a stabilizing effect for families and for the broader economy, providing certainty that there is more assistance on the way if things get worse.
- Expand Federal financial support for hospitals and community health centers.
- Increase Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, as well as allotments for Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH).
- Fund mental health programs, specifically increasing funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Legislation included should also expand clinics for behavioral health and fund suicide prevention training, like Congressman Peters’ bill, the STANDUP Act.
- Continue support for expanding COVID-19 testing access. This will be paramount in properly assessing nationwide spread and to get those who have contracted the virus the support and health care they need as early as possible.
- Ensure health care providers have the medical necessities essential to treat patients with COVID-19 efficiently, effectively, and safely. Health care workers on the frontlines of this pandemic must be adequately armed. It is imperative that the country boosts production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other vital medical supplies.
Help the most vulnerable
- Provide at least $15 billion in emergency appropriations for Emergency Solutions Grants to get people off the streets and to help reduce exposure to COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness. This flexible funding is needed now to rapidly re-house people, help people relocate, and prevent immediate homelessness.
- Provide hazard pay and an OSHA emergency protection standard for our frontline workers, including those who work in health care, public safety and TSA and other critical airport workers.
A Vice-Chair of the New Democrat Coalition, many of the Congressman’s proposals were included as part of the group’s Economic Recommendations released last week in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The wide-ranging proposal acts as a guideline for the federal government, offering ideas that would help triage and recover, streamline and stabilize and return to normal. Rep. Peters was tapped to present these principles to the House Democratic Caucus.
In addition to the ideas being advocated for by the New Democrat Coalition, Rep. Peters is pushing for future legislation to also provide support for immigrants who are an indispensable part of the nation’s workforce. He is fighting to ensure the inclusion of DACA recipients and other immigrants in any economic benefits granted to the American public during the crisis, and has called for the temporary freeze of all deportations and a comprehensive plan to prevent an outbreak in immigration detention facilities. He is also asking for an immediate end to the public charge rule, currently suspended for medical treatment but should extend to housing and nutrition assistance as well.