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Senate Democrats Propose $350 Billion In Coronavirus Aid For Communities Of Color. Here’s Exactly What That Would Look Like.

TOPLINE

With just days to go before Congressional lawmakers begin hashing out the next coronavirus stimulus bill, Senate Democrats released a proposal to invest $350 billion in communities of color, which have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic and have faced years of underinvestment and systemic racism.

KEY FACTS

As part of the Economic Justice Act, Senate Democrats led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer want to invest $135 billion in immediate initiatives like childcare, mental health and primary care and jobs in communities of color. 

Federally supported jobs and youth training programs, capital investments in community lenders, an emergency grant program for low income families are just some of the programs included in the plan.

Another $215 billion would be spent on long term investments like infrastructure, a tax credit for down payments on home purchases, and Medicaid expansion.

Programs under this umbrella would include expanded high-speed internet access and reducing rent and utilities to 30% of income for low income households.

The money for these investments would come in part from a pool of $500 billion previously earmarked for the Treasury Department for Federal Reserve corporate lending programs. 

Crucial quote

“Long before the pandemic, long before this recession, long before this year’s protests, structural inequalities have persisted in health care and housing, the economy and education,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “COVID-19 has only magnified these injustices.”

Key background

The coronavirus pandemic has been hardest on communities of color in the United States, both in terms of health and economic outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black people have a Covid-19 hospitalization that is approximately five times the hospitalization rate of white people. 40% of Black small businesses were forced to close down in April, when lockdown orders were most strict, compared to just 20% of white small businesses, according to University of California, Santa Cruz economist Robert Fairlie. 

What to watch for

Congress will return from its Fourth of July recess next week, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to release a $1 trillion GOP aid proposal in response to the $3 trillion Heroes Act passed by House Democrats in March. The next few weeks will be crucial for lawmakers—still sharply divided over everything from aid to state and local governments to stimulus checks to liability protections for businesses—to decide on what the next round of federal pandemic aid will look like before several key provisions of the CARES Act expire. 

Further reading

Here’s What The Racial Wealth Gap In America Looks Like Today (Forbes)

White House Inches Closer To Compromise On Expanded Unemployment Benefits, But It Might Be Too Late (Forbes)

Report: GOP Officials Weighing A Lower Income Cap For Second Round Of Stimulus Checks (Forbes)

Here’s When We’ll Know Whether CARES Act Provisions—Including A Stimulus Check—Will Be Renewed (Forbes)

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