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Congress Must Be Held Accountable for Protecting Black Communities 

For immediate release: May 16, 2020

NATIONWIDE —  Following the passage of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) by the House of Representatives, Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson issued the following statement:

“Because of the sustained pressure put on Congress by Color Of Change members and our partners in the progressive community, the HEROES Act is a much closer reflection of Black people’s needs during this public health and economic crisis than previous stimulus efforts. This is a temporary reprieve, but we need sustained relief.

Democrats must do everything they can to ensure Republicans do not water down the provisions that are critical to this progressive legislation. With the inclusion of the Martha Wright Act provision, the House is ensuring that the economic burden of having an incarcerated loved one is reduced, by implementing overdue regulation on the predatory prison telecom industry.  More than 20,000 people advocated via our platform for new caps on telephone and video communication charges for incarcerated people, which will allow families to stay connected as jails and prisons continue to be hotbeds for the spread of  COVID-19. Elsewhere, premium pay and grants for essential workers, who are predominantly Black and at risk of exposure to the deadly virus, will provide an overdue reward for the unbalanced sacrifices made by Black people. Employee retention tax credits will allow our businesses to continue fighting for their economic existence, at least in the short term.

The fight is far from over: at stake is $3.6 billion in funding to protect our elections from attacks by politicians intent on exploiting this crisis to undermine democracy. Democrats must hold the line on these dollars — and not only when the cameras are watching.

But one-time, temporary, and ad-hoc payments and relief measures are only one step toward the transformative policies we need to protect our lives and our livelihoods. A more robust paycheck guarantee, recurring monthly cash payments and suspension of debt collections, as well as the expansion of unemployment insurance and health care services, will be vital to not only come out of this crisis, but to guarantee Black people are not left out of our economy’s recovery.”

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