Part of a broader progressive coalition demanding Republicans in the U.S. Senate end their refusal to vote on the Covid-19 relief bill passed by House Democrats back in May, organizers with Greenpeace USA on Thursday morning staged a protest outside the U.S. Capitol Building contrasting the intransigence of key GOP lawmakers with the suffering and urgent needs of frontline workers and their families during a raging pandemic.
"A healthy democracy is a precondition for a healthy environment."
—Folabi Olagbaju, Greenpeace USAAlongside a large banner reading "Choose the People. Pass the HEROES Act NOW," the demonstrators placed life-sized cutouts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as well as five of his Republican colleagues, all up for reelection in November: Sens. Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia.
Greenpeace in a statement highlighted the urgent need for the Senate to pass the Democrats' HEROES Act, which targeted $3 trillion in emergency funding to help support struggling families and businesses, provide resources to essential frontline workers, and expand election protections and voter access for November's election. While McConnell has treated the bill "as dead on arrival" for over two months, the group said passage of the legislation would mark "critical progress" in fighting back against the pandemic while also building a "more people-powered democracy" for the country.
"A healthy democracy is a precondition for a healthy environment," said Folabi Olagbaju, director of Greenpeace USA's Democracy Campaign, in a statement. "Our time to act is now. If we get it right, we have the chance to navigate out of two crises at once—the pandemic and the climate crisis. Essential workers depend on it. Struggling working families depend on it. States desperately need this funding to make voting safe and fair. And, all of us who will cast our vote in November depend on it. We are calling on these senators to do their job. Now is the time for bold action from our elected officials. They must rise to the occasion and pass the HEROES Act now."
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All six of the Republican senators targeted by the protest—even McConnell—are seen as vulnerable in the November election.
With extended federal unemployment benefits running out Friday and rent and other bills due on August 1 for millions of struggling families, Greenpeace said there is no possible excuse to delay action for even one more minute.
"On July 31, unemployment benefits run out for many American families just as rent is coming due," the group said. "There is no time to waste."