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OPW: Aggressive action is needed on COVID relief

Washington office of PC(USA) champions Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion package to aid people and businesses affected by the coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

LOUISVILLE — As the country continues to struggle under the physical and financial weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is calling on Congress to support President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The Presbyterian Office of Public Witness (OPW) released an Action Alert Wednesday, urging members of the public to ask their senators to support Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan for COVID-19 relief.

Among other things, the plan calls for providing $1,400 per-person checks to households across the country, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“It is critical that your senator hear from you on why this legislation is needed,” the Alert states. “Congress must move quickly to pass measures that will address the increasingly urgent needs of people and families who are struggling as a result of the pandemic. We need bold action to address the historic challenges facing our nation.”

In addition to taking more than 450,000 U.S. lives, the pandemic has triggered an economic crisis that has left more than 10 million Americans unemployed, about 15 million renters behind on their payments and at least 36 million people not getting enough to eat, according to the White House.

President Joe Biden (official White House photograph)

“These aren’t Democrats or Republicans — they’re Americans — and they’re suffering,” Biden said in remarks earlier this month. “A lot of folks are losing hope, and I believe the American people are looking now to their government for help, to do our job, to not let them down.”

The plan also calls for establishing a national vaccination program, setting up community vaccination sites nationwide, scaling up testing and tracing, eliminating supply shortage problems, investing in high-quality treatments and providing paid sick leave to contain the spread of the virus.

“Are we going to pass a big enough package to vaccinate people, to get people back to work, to alleviate the suffering in this country this year?  That’s what I want to do,” Biden said. “Or are we going to say to millions of Americans who are out of work — many of whom have been out of work for six months or longer … ‘Don’t worry, hang on. Things are going to get better. We’re going to go smaller, so it’s just going to take us a lot longer’?”

OPW is speaking out about the Rescue Plan because the PC(USA) is a Matthew 25 church that responds to God’s call to be actively engaged in the world and care for the most marginalized people in society. The pandemic has disproportionately affected low-wealth communities, Black and Indigenous people, and communities of color, according to the Washington office

“Our new Congress must immediately address the COVID crisis head on,” the Action Alert states. “Absent aggressive action, the economic and public health crisis will continue to affect millions of people. There needs to be legislation that is broad in scope and size to address the many facets of the complex disaster that is the COVID crisis.”

To learn more and find out how to contact your senators, go here.

The Office of Public Witness is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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