As the U. S. House of Representatives awaits the political fate of another multi-trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill, called the “Heroes Act”, Black Wealth 2020 (BW2020), a national catalyst for economic justice for African-Americans, is pressing Congressional leaders to unify for equity for the millions of pandemic victims who have yet to receive it.
“Each of our respective national organizations is comprised of memberships who are struggling to adjust to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the members of this coalition have made every effort to guide their members to resources designed to help them navigate stimulus programs like the Payroll Protection Program, our organizations see the need to implement equitable and transparent programs that help disadvantaged communities weather this unprecedented storm,” states a letter from BW2020, primarily addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The letter states that the previous CARES Act (PPP), was worthy of applause for its “valiant efforts by members of Congress.” But many “businesses in the minority community were not able to receive” equitable financial relief.
Among a string of benefits that could significantly impact Black people, the Democratic-led $3 trillion proposal would provide $900 billion in federal funding to states and cities; another round of stimulus checks and possible expansion of unemployment claims.
But the bill passed the House along close partisan lines 208-199; so political observers doubt that it will make it through the Republican-led Senate any time soon if ever. Senate leaders say it’s too much money for the deficit. They were expected to take it up after Memorial Day this week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has called the House bill “an unserious product” and President Trump, who would have to sign it, called it “dead on arrival”. But Senate leadership has indicated that they do see the need for more relief and stimulus; therefore, members could significantly alter parts of the bill. If the Senate passes a marked-up version of the bill, there would still be time to negotiate needed improvements through a Conference Committee, which is made up of members of the House and Senate.
Black Wealth 2020 comprises major Black organizations with thousands of members in banking, business and homeownership.
“We are unified in a common goal to shape a black economic policy agenda around three pillars: promoting black-owned businesses, black homeownership and black-owned banks,” the letter states.
The BW2020 letter makes a plea for bi-partisanship despite the drawback from Senate Republicans.
“The bill should have bi-partisan support because ours is an economy that depends heavily on consumer suspending. When Black and brown people in America have less to spend, the adverse ripple effects will eventually cost everybody in the country,” said Michael Grant, former president of the National Bankers Association, a Black Wealth 2020 founder, in an interview.
Ron Busby, president/ CEO of the U. S. Black Chamber Inc., says Republicans must beware of the long-term effect of COVID-19 that could affect the economic principles that they espouse as being important to their agenda.