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People wait in line as SF-Marin Food Bank hands out 1,600 food bags at a pop-up pantry at Bayview Opera House in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, April 20, 2020. Work furloughs and layoffs created by coronavirus shelter-in-place orders are driving thousands to seek food assistance.

People wait in line as SF-Marin Food Bank hands out 1,600 food bags at a pop-up pantry at Bayview Opera House in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, April 20, 2020. Work furloughs and layoffs created by coronavirus shelter-in-place orders are driving thousands to seek food assistance. (Photo: Scott Strazzante/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Progressives Boost Call for 'Peoples Agenda' With Eyes Towards Next Relief Package

"No more waiting for 'next time.' Next time is now."

Andrea Germanos

As the Senate prepares to reconvene Monday, progressive organizations are encouraging people to put pressure on lawmakers to reject any future coronavirus relief measure that doesn't provide "real relief" for working Americans.

"No more waiting for 'next time,'" say the groups. "Next time is now."

The goal is to have lawmakers sign "The Peoples Agenda Pledge." The agenda is grounded in four pillars: 

  • Keep people on payrolls: Stop mass layoffs, and preserve employment relationships for all businesses, including small businesses. Ensure federal dollars go to workers and small businesses, not enriching CEOs and Wall Street.
  • Provide financial relief: Expand aid for the most vulnerable in the COVID-19 epidemic, including direct cash assistance, increased food aid, debt relief, and eviction protections.
  • Protect public health: Full health coverage for all COVID-19 care and protections for all frontline workers.
  • Defend elections: Enact a vote-by-mail requirement for 2020 federal elections while maintaining access to in-person voting for those who do not have access to mail voting.

Indivisible suggested people turn up the heat on their representatives by contacting them via email and tweet this week.

As the Associated Press reported Saturday, senators will return to the capitol even as the region "remains under stay-at-home orders as a virus hot spot."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision to convene 100 senators at the Capitol during a pandemic gives President Donald Trump the imagery he wants of America getting back to work, despite health worries and a lack of testing

House leadership has not yet called the chamber back in session. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that a return may happen as soon as May 11.

AP continued:

For Senate Republicans, returning Congress to session is an attempt to set the terms of debate as Democrats push for another pricey coronavirus relief bill. Frustrated after Pelosi boosted Democratic priorities in earlier aid packages, an unprecedented $3 trillion in emergency spending, they are resisting more. Republicans are counting on the country's reopening and an economic rebound as their best hope to limit a new round of big spending on virus aid.

The uncertainty over the next relief package comes after the due date for May rent sparked coordinated protests in major U.S. cities and as U.S. unemployment claims surged past 30 million in the past six weeks, with those job losses also indicating that over 12 million workers just lost their employer-tied health insurance.

The economic crisis drove the call to Pelosi made last week by more than 100 economists urging Congress to pass Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Paycheck Guarantee Act. 

"Our current relief systems are failing to deliver the kind of expansive and immediate relief American workers and businesses need in a streamlined and quick way," Jayapal said in a statement last month. "Mass unemployment is a policy choice—and Congress must choose differently to stop the suffering."

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