Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to shift $350 billion from an untapped Treasury Department virus relief program to help Black Americans during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
According to The Grio, Schumer said moving some of the $500 billion previously approved for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would lead to immediate and long-term changes to address systemic racism.
“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,” Schumer said in a statement. “COVID-19 has only magnified these injustices.”
Schumer’s proposal would shift $135 billion from the Treasury’s fund to child care and health care needs of people of color during the pandemic. The plan would also move $215 billion over five years into longer-term investments, including a housing down payment program, Medicaid expansion, and other services.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is preparing to release its $1 trillion coronavirus relief package as soon as next week. The plan is a counteroffer to the $3 trillion proposal that House Democrats approved in May.
For months, McConnell has pushed aside requests for more money, saying the government should wait to see how the first infusion of money helps. However, the coronavirus pandemic has only gotten worse, and now red states such as Texas, Florida, and Kentucky are being overwhelmed.
“There were some that hoped this would go away sooner than it has,” McConnell said Wednesday during a hospital visit in Kentucky, where he urged people to wear masks and social distance. “The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand: This is not going away.”
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to get worse in the U.S., McConnell is trying to keep costs down. Both the House and Senate want to help schools reopen, provide unemployment benefits, and ramp up coronavirus testing, treatments, and a vaccine. However, they differ on how much money it will cost.
In their bill, the House provided $100 billion for school reopenings in an education stabilization fund they say could swell to $430 billion to include more money for child care, colleges, and other needs. Republicans are trying to spend significantly less, $50 to $75 billion, on education.
The White House has promised to open up more money for education as it continues to urge for schools across the country to open. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday that reopening schools remains a priority, even if the science says otherwise.
“The science should not stand in the way of this,” McEnany said, adding it is “perfectly safe” to fully reopen all classrooms.