March 27, 2020

WASHINGTON — Congress today passed a $2 trillion stimulus package intended to address the broad impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The following is a statement from Ronald Newman, national political director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

“Congress was right to take decisive and significant action to protect our health and sustain the livelihoods of millions harmed economically by the COVID-19 crisis.  Members of Congress also rightly gave the federal Bureau of Prisons the ability to let more people serve their sentences at home instead of in prison, as well as connect those incarcerated with family members through video visitation free of charge. During this public health crisis, we must immediately reduce the number of people in detention, jails, and prisons, starting by releasing those most vulnerable.

“Yet, the bill has serious shortcomings, leaving out too many of our neighbors, friends, and family members and missing an opportunity to safeguard our democracy.

“It leaves out tens of millions of people — many green card holders, DACA recipients, TPS holders, and undocumented people — who may be unable to access care and testing, thereby failing to adequately address this pandemic and protect us all. It plays politics with our nation’s health — targeting reproductive health care, particularly for people with low incomes. It fails to provide the funds and authorities needed to safeguard our upcoming election, as states scramble to adopt vote by mail systems and other key changes. It fails to ensure that people with disabilities who require medical treatment will not be discriminated against because of their disability. And it provides insufficient support to D.C., which has confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths and should receive equal funding as states to address this pandemic.

“In the midst of this public health crisis, our government’s response must be based in science. Had Congress heeded the advice of public health experts when drafting this legislation, members would have understood that the pandemic does not discriminate and neither should Congress’s response. Congress can and must do better with its next bill.”

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