In order to ensure that COVID-19 stimulus legislation prioritizes people over polluters, and that communities are protected in both the short and long term from coronavirus and the climate crisis, 350 US has outlined a list of six inclusive priorities that are critical to a strong Congressional stimulus package. These demands, along with the People’s BailOut endorsed by nearly a thousand organizations, make up the blueprint for a Just Recovery.
1. Protect all workers and provide Medicare for all.
Pushing the Trump Administration to use the Defense Production Act to provide adequate PPE and medical equipment needed to fight the pandemic.
A large percentage of essential workers are from the most vulnerable communities, including Black, Indigenous, Latino, and immigrant communities, as well as people of color and the working class, who cannot afford to go without a paycheck. These workers who are historically excluded must be protected, regardless of immigration status. The Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era law that was used to secure the production of essential goods, should be activated to provide the right personal protective equipment and medical equipment to all essential workers and health care workers as the top priority. This will ensure we are mobilizing our resources in service to protect workers who need the most support.
Support Medicare for All.
COVID-19 has further exposed all the cracks in our healthcare system and this must be fixed immediately to ensure that all people in the U.S. have proper healthcare. Congress should put steps in place to pass a sweeping Medicare for All package to provide millions of people with comprehensive health benefits, replacing private insurance and the current Medicare program.
2. Provide relief directly to people, regardless of immigration status, and not corporate executives.
Ensure Puerto Rico and all territories receive substantive support and relief.
Congress must not forget necessary relief for Puerto Rico and all other territories impacted by COVID-19. Puerto Rico has reported close to tens of thousands of casesand counting, with dozens of deaths of individuals with no prior health conditions. The local government still does not have an accurate picture of COVID-19 cases in Puerto Rico since there has not been widespread testing. Congress must ensure widespread testing and support for Puerto Rico and all U.S. island territories facing the dual impacts of COVID-19 and climate impacts such as hurricanes.
Expand the social safety net and economic security measures such as bans on utility shutoffs, mortgage and rent relief, and extended unemployment benefits.
Tens of millions of Americans have filed for unemployment due to industries that have been shuttered by protective stay-at-home orders. The United States has not seen this level of job loss since the Great Depression, and the government is struggling to respond fast enough to the health crisis and the widespread economic pain it has triggered. While the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, approved in late March by Congress, provided some relief across the economic spectrum, the ongoing impacts of the pandemic require more people-centered stimulus support that expands the social safety net and economic security for communities. Black, Indigenous, and communities of color in particular have been hit hard by COVID-19, facing disproportionately high rates of infection and mortality, and have been further confronted with the historical burden of institutional and structural racism that leads to a lack of social safety and economic security. These impacts are bleeding into the ability to pay for utilities, mortgages, and rent. Congress must expand the social safety net to ensure that all individuals and families are not faced with loss of homes or utility shut offs during this national disaster.
Ensure companies that receive relief retain workers and their benefits.
In April 2020, the Senate approved a $480 billion stimulus package to help small businesses and hospitals impacted by the coronavirus. Congress must ensure that businesses protect their workers and secure their benefits through additional stimulus efforts. We cannot allow companies who receive federal aid to use it for stock buybacks or executive bonuses.
3. Protect our democracy.
Require all states/territories to offer vote by mail for all elections.
America needs a system that allows all citizens to vote safely from home. Requiring people to attend in-person polling places, which often have an inadequate number of voting machines and long lines, leads to avoidable disenfranchisement of voters and is unsafe with the current pandemic. All states and territories should have a fair and uniform vote by mail system that does not hinder individuals from casting their vote.
Provide states with additional funding to implement vote by mail and hold fair elections.
In order to have properly functioning and secure vote by mail systems for all states and territories, additional federal funding should be provided to ensure that states can properly carry out their duty to hold fair elections.
4. Prioritize community-led recovery in hardest hit communities .
Invest additional resources in communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and the climate crisis.
Black, Indigenous, people of color, and low income communities have been hit hardest by this pandemic. This virus has compounded the hardships that these communities were already facing. Low income workers have less access to health insurance, health care, and paid sick leave, and are less likely to hold jobs where they can work from home, so they are left with no choice but to continuously place themselves at risk. Recovery efforts from this pandemic should prioritize low income communities, communities of color, and essential workers who have suffered the most impacts from both climate change and the pandemic. Just recovery efforts must also be long term, and consider climate resiliency. These efforts should prioritize supporting the hardest hit communities and making them resilient to future crises, including climate impacts.
5. Stop Fossil Fuel Extraction.
Ban use of bailout funds for the fossil fuel industry and other polluters.
As Trump and members of Congress who are beholden to Big Oil have maneuvered to bail out the oil industry, legislators such as Representative Barragan and Senator Merkely have launched efforts to combat giveaways to oil executives with the “Resources for Workforce Investments, Not Drilling Act” (ReWIND Act). The ReWIND Act would prevent oil, gas and coal companies from gaining access to stimulus money, prevents the sale of new fossil fuel leases on public lands, and stops the Department of the Interior from loosening regulations during the state of emergency. These legislative protections are necessary to ensure that our communities are not left behind in favor of corporate giveaways.
Prohibit construction of fossil fuel infrastructure and other polluting infrastructure projects
In the midst of the pandemic, while communities are reeling from the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, fossil fuel companies have tried to move forward with construction of pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have loosened regulations and monitoring as the Department of Health and Human Services declared that pipeline construction was essential despite an oversupply of oil and gas. For example, in Montana, TC Energy has deployed workers to begin construction on the Keystone XL pipeline, threatening Indigenous lands and populations that have historically been more vulnerable and endangered by epidemics, and potentially taxing overburdened rural healthcare systems. Faith Spotted Eagle, an Indigenous leader and member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, likened this action to when settlers brought smallpox intentionally to their communities. With oil prices below zero, and pipelines like Keystone XL mired by court proceedings and undergoing extensive permitting and environmental review, construction should be halted on these polluting industries.
Stop the sale of leases for fossil fuel extraction on public lands
Despite outcry from environmentalists, the Department of Interior is moving forward with oil and gas lease sales. The Bureau of Land Management is holding auctions for parcels in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming. The Department of Interior has not extended comment periods to allow for members of the public who are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic to have time to adequately respond to projects that have severe environmental and climate consequences. With the drop in oil prices showing once again showing the volatility of Big Oil and its impact on our economy, sales of leases for fossil fuel extraction should be stopped immediately.
6. Invest in a Green New Deal.
As we are working towards economic recovery we should be building the foundations of a Green New Deal. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated $90 billion for investment in renewable energy. This spurred a clean energy revolution across our nation. As Congress develops additional stimulus plans, they should include Green New Deal policies that would:
Rebuild our infrastructure to transition to a clean, renewable energy economy.
Build affordable, zero emissions public transit.
Expand public services that support climate resilience.
Prioritize investments in vulnerable low income communities and communities of color
Support legislation such as the BREATHE Act to redistribute resources and divest from the fossil fuel industry, racist policing, and incarceration in order to prioritize community-led solutions
Provide a just transition for fossil fuel workers and communities.
Invest in renewable energy infrastructure workforce training, research, and development.
Solidarity School, Fall 2020 Recordings
The 350 US Team kicked off our Just Recovery work with a series of “Solidarity School” mass calls with guest presenters and action steps. Check out the recordings here.
Solidarity School #1: Our Fight for a Just Recovery