We are eager for the US Senate to pass substantive legislation to address the health and economic issues caused by the pandemic. Our faiths teach us that each person is beloved by God and worthy of dignity and humanity. We urge members of the Senate and House to move swiftly to adopt a stimulus package that reduces hardships for the most vulnerable and takes steps toward restoring the vitality of our economy.
DAI calls on Senators Cornyn and Cruz and all House members to:
1) Support the full $600 per week federal supplemental unemployment insurance.
The CARES Act provided an additional $600/week to supplement the very low unemployment benefits provided by the State of Texas. The current Senate bill would reduce that supplement to just $200/week. In order to help families cover their current living costs and keep our economy afloat, Congress must continue the $600/week supplement until pandemic has subsided.
2) Provide $100 Billion in rent assistance
Over 40% of renters in Texas recently said they were unsure if they could pay their August rent. More than half of renters pay more than 30% of their income in rent. Rent assistance programs offered by the City of Dallas and Dallas County have met only a small fraction of the need. The House bill proposes allocating $100 Billion for Rent Assistance, while the current Senate proposal has nothing for rent assistance.
3) All those with Social Security numbers should receive a stimulus check
The CARES Act provided $1200 in stimulus to adult taxpayers and $500 for each of their minor dependents. If anyone in the home filed taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number, no one in the home received a stimulus payment. DAI believes that any stimulus targeted toward individuals and families must be provided to all members of the family who have Social Security numbers or who have paid income taxes using an ITIN.
4) Invest $175 Billion in Public Education to Reopen Schools Safely and Close the Digital Divide
Less than one percent of federal pandemic relief has gone to K-12 education. To safely reopen schools and make distance learning work, Congress must fund: resources to modify classrooms, cafeterias, and school buses to permit social distancing; intensify instruction and support for students traumatized by the impact of the coronavirus on their families and communities; provide regular testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for students and educators; implement rigorous cleaning and ventilation standards; make broadband internet available for every child; and more.
The relief package needs to include at least $175 billion to stabilize education funding, at least $4 billion to equip students with hot spots and devices to help narrow the digital divide and close the homework gap, directed funding for PPE, and relief for student loan borrowers.
5) Increase federal share of Medicaid costs while requiring Medicaid Maintenance of Effort
If the federal government pays more of the cost of Texas’ Medicaid program, more state funds will remain to cover other essential costs. When the federal government does contribute a greater share of the cost of Texas Medicaid, our state must continue offering the same Medicaid services to our families.
Leaders and Clergy of Dallas Area Interfaith