WASHINGTON – Congress reached agreement on a US$900 billion stimulus package, half the amount of March’s US$2.2 trillion relief package, amidst a worsening pandemic, an eviction crisis, rising unemployment, and with a vaccine on its way. The package is set to provide US$600 stimulus payments to adults and children and revive supplemental federal unemployment benefits at US$300 per week. It will extend federal unemployment programs, provide rental and food assistance, and support schools and small businesses. Two contentious policies were absent: the Republicans dropped a COVID-19 liability shield and Democrats removed a direct channel of aid to state and local governments.
The legislation includes a US$35 billion energy package requiring companies to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, but still funds toxic and dangerous energy technologies like nuclear and invests in false solutions like carbon capture and storage.
350.org Associate Director of Policy Natalie Mebane gave the following response:
“We are pleased to see Congress deliver a direct payment to the people, clean of liability waivers for corporations. While we welcome investment in hydrofluorocarbon phase out, we’re disappointed that this funds toxic and dangerous energy technologies like nuclear, and invests in inadequate solutions like carbon capture and storage. This stimulus is better than more stalemate, but falls short of what our country needs right now.
“While fossil fuel companies ride out billions in bail-outs, millions of people across America face evictions and unemployment. We need a just recovery to address the health and economic crises we face with direct, monthly relief to our communities, with support for community-owned and -led climate solutions.
“With Biden and Harris at the helm, our government must mobilize like never before to deliver millions of family-sustaining jobs and a livable future. Biden will undoubtedly need to push for another big relief package that thoroughly addresses health, economic, housing, and food injustice.”
On top of a devastating pandemic and widespread economic injustice, including 30-40 million more people at risk of eviction in January, 2020 has wrought record climate-fueled disasters on our nation — from wildfires on the West Coast and in Colorado to near endless storms bashing the Gulf Coast. Ahead of a long, dark winter, 350 launched a Build Back Fossil Free campaign with leading progressive groups to push Biden to fulfill his climate mandate to avert further climate devastation and prioritize frontline communities most impacted while helping people recover from the pandemic.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.