ACLU Statement on Senate Republican Proposal, The “HEALS Act”

July 27, 2020 10:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-K.y.) today introduced the HEALS Act, a $1 trillion stimulus package intended to blunt the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal falls woefully short and fails to take the necessary steps to protect our health or the future of our country.

Congress must:

  1. Mandate and provide funding for no-excuse absentee mail-in voting and early voting;
  2. Expand release for people in prisons and jails most vulnerable to COVID-19;
  3. Extend the now-expired federal eviction moratorium and provide funding for emergency rental assistance; and
  4. Provide access to COVID-19 testing and treatment for everyone, regardless of immigration status.

These actions will save lives; prevent mass evictions, homelessness, and broader economic devastation; and allow people to exercise their right to vote without sacrificing their health.

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

“Congress must move swiftly to address the critical civil liberties and civil rights challenges triggered and exacerbated by the pandemic — but this is not the right path forward. While the Senate did propose much-needed funding to address COVID-19, millions of people may still be left without access to testing and treatment by this patchwork solution. The final package must ensure universal access to testing and treatment through emergency Medicaid. Until all of us are covered, all of us are at risk.

“As many struggle to obtain lifesaving care, people are being detained in tinderboxes — jails and prisons — and forced out of their homes through evictions. We are now just days away from August 1, when millions of people across the country will be unable to pay rent. Congress can, and must, respond.

“We are also just 99 days from Election Day, yet many voters across the nation do not have safe, secure access to the ballot. During primary elections this spring and summer, we witnessed the perils that will befall voters in November if Congress does not step up and provide a basic roadmap for ensuring voters can cast their ballots without being forced to risk their health in the process.

“Congress must protect marginalized communities and the most vulnerable people in our country, and safeguard our democratic system. The time to act is now. Members of Congress, do your job.”

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