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PC(USA) Washington office calls on Senate to support frontline workers and more

HEROES Act, passed by House, includes support for several things Office of Public Witness has advocated

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins speaking at a 2019 press conference at the U.S. Capitol, demanding a moral budget. Accompanying him are the Rev. Dr. Rashell Hunter (left) and the Rev. Dr. Catherine Threadgill (right) of Hawkins. (Photo from the Office of Public Witness)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness on Capitol Hill wants people to contact their senators to tell them to support the HEROES Act, which passed the House of Representatives last week.

“The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act),” the Washington Office’s call says, “provides support for essential workers, protects voting rights and the census, and provides aid to low-income communities. Please join the Office of Public Witness in calling on the Senate to pass the HEROES Act and enacting these necessary measures.”

The $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed the House May 15 in a 208-199 largely party-line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. But it faces rough sledding, if any, in the Senate and a veto threat from President Donald Trump, if it makes it to his desk.

“Families need to know that they have leaders who not only care, but who will act to provide needed relief,” said the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, coordinator of the Office of Public Witness (OPW). “Children need extra protection to ensure that they are well-fed and given shelter. The elderly, who already carry a disproportionately emotional burden of the virus, need reassurance that their isolation is physical and does not mean that they are alone or forgotten.

“Our faith informs us to care for the widows and orphans of the world; has there been a time when this commandment is more needed? Support for this bill is necessary as we are reminded that everyone needs help at some time in life, and this is that time.”

OPW cited three aspects of the bill that are in line with its previous advocacy:

  • In early April, the office called on Congress to protect frontline workers: “If the HEROES Act passes, OSHA will be required to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect frontline workers who are at the highest risk of contracting coronavirus,” the Action Alert says.
  • OPW has also advocated for voting access and support for the Census: “The HEROES Act provides support to local governments for safe and fair elections. It also provides funding and other resources for an accurate Census count, ensuring everyone has a voice in shaping our democracy during these uncertain times.”
  • And the act echoes the Washington ministry’s call for increases in SNAP and tax benefits to help families impacted by the economic havoc in the wake of the virus: “This bill will provide multiple layers of support so that families harmed by the economic recession will be able to pay their bills and put food on the table.”

Using the Voter Voice platform, the Action Alert provides an easy way for people who want to contact their senators to do so.

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

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