COVID-19 Relief Package a Start, But Significant Work is Still Needed

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December 22, 2020

Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team; Phone: 202-417-0171

COVID-19 Relief Package a Start, But Significant Work is Still Needed
The long-awaited package directs taxpayer money to private religious institutions, while limiting direct relief to Americans

WASHINGTON — Monday night, Congress passed a long-awaited coronavirus relief package, offering Americans federal pandemic assistance for the first time since the spring. In response, Katy Joseph, director of policy & advocacy for Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:

In communities across the country, workers and families are reaching a breaking point. Unemployment is skyrocketing, evictions are underway, and hundreds of thousands of families will begin a new year with an empty chair at the dinner table. While the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines provides some hope, this pandemic is devastating marginalized communities and they cannot wait any longer for meaningful assistance.

“Today’s relief package is a product of compromise between corporate interests and the urgent needs of everyday people. State and local governments were categorically excluded, threatening the livelihoods of public health workers, teachers, and other civil servants. And, six months after the federal government issued stimulus checks of $1,200, $600 per person and $300 per week in unemployment will do little for families struggling to keep food on the table.

“In moments of crisis, our democratic ideals are critically important. This includes the wall of separation between religion and government, which enables both to thrive. But we’ve seen federal funding distributed through the Paycheck Protection Program and other assistance flow to houses of worship and faith-based groups that discriminate in the name of religion, turning away LGBTQ+ people and those who don’t share their beliefs. The federal government should be working to meet the skyrocketing needs of our most vulnerable, not creating new funding streams for private religious interests – especially as everyday Americans fail to receive sufficient direct relief.

“This relief package is a beginning. But as this crisis continues, our communities are counting on solutions that are rooted in justice. In the coming weeks, Congress must release a new, comprehensive relief package that meets the urgency of the moment and uplifts those most in need.