Senator Stabenow: Pass COVID-19 Help for Michigan Families Now

In a Floor Speech, Senator Stabenow Stresses the Need for Immediate Assistance for Families + Small Businesses in Michigan

Friday, December 04, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Debbie Stabenow today spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate on the COVID-19 crisis and the need for Congress to pass a survival package for families in Michigan.  


“We’re not just facing a health crisis right now. We’re facing an economic crisis. We’re facing a housing crisis. And we’re facing a hunger crisis, all at the same time. People in Michigan and across this country are crying out for help. It’s time for Congress to listen, and it’s time for us to act,” said Senator Stabenow.


A video of the speech can be found here.  A transcript is below.


“It might be hard to believe, but it’s already December. In normal times, a lot of families in Michigan would be focused on getting ready for the holidays. And while Michigan children might still be counting down the days until Santa arrives, their parents have a lot bigger issues weighing on their minds.


“A Michigan dad who has been out of work for months is wondering how long his family can keep scraping by in the new year after his unemployment runs out.


“A Michigan single mom whose hours have been cut and who has been unable to pay the rent for months is wondering just how long it will be until her family is out on the street.


“The owner of a small Michigan business is wondering if he’ll see enough of a holiday boost to keep the doors open and his three employees on the payroll.


“A Michigan retiree who is struggling to buy enough groceries is wondering if it’s safe to wait in the long line at her local food bank, or if that’s where she’ll get sick.


“And Michigan families – who’ve seen almost 9,300 of their grandparents and neighbors, uncles and cousins, friends and community leaders get sick and die from this horrible virus – are wondering who will be next.


“The truth is, we’re not just facing a health crisis right now.


“We’re facing an economic crisis. We’re facing a housing crisis. And we’re facing a hunger crisis, all at the same time.


“Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths keep rising – and we haven’t even seen the effects of Thanksgiving gatherings yet.


“We’re seeing unemployment claims tick up – and that’s expected to get worse after seasonal jobs end in January.


“Some studies have estimated that about 40 million renters in the United States are at risk of losing their homes.


“Already, 10,000 eviction actions have been filed in a number of states. That’s 10,000 families who need to find a new place to live in winter in the middle of a health pandemic.


“And we’ve all seen the massive lines of cars at food banks across the country.


“In a normal year, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan helps about 14% of the population in 22 counties get enough food to eat.


“This year, they’re helping about 40% of the population put food on their tables.


“And before COVID-19, the South Michigan Food Bank provided food to about 80 families per week.


“Now they’re helping to feed about 500 families a week.


“This is an emergency. These families, businesses, community organizations and seniors can’t just wait around, hoping for a Christmas miracle. They need help now and it’s our responsibility to do it now.


“That’s why I’m pleased that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been working to come to an agreement on additional coronavirus help.


“There are still a lot of details to work out, but I am hopeful that we can come to an agreement that will help families, businesses and communities get through this tough time.


“Whatever agreement we reach won’t be perfect we know that. It won’t be everything that everyone wants. But we can’t wait, because time is quickly running out.


“On December 26 – only 23 days from now – vital unemployment programs will expire, cutting off benefits that millions of workers need to provide for their families. If you’re self-employed, if you’re a contract worker, if you’re a gig worker suddenly you will have zero help.


“Five days after that – on December 31 – the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs end.


“That will cut off crucial credit that is keeping businesses open and helping state and local governments provide necessary services.


“Also on December 31, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires.


“And the federal foreclosure moratorium and some opportunities for forbearance expire.


“Imagine what it would be like to begin a new year with no roof over your head, no place for your children to sleep and no way to stay clean in the middle of a raging pandemic.


“And on January 1, millions of student loan borrowers will have to resume their payments, whether or not they can afford to.


“These programs have been a lifeline for families, communities and businesses during the pandemic.


“And while vaccines are on the horizon, this pandemic is far from over.


“Cutting off this vital help now would be like an ambulance driver stopping two miles short of the hospital and making the accident victim get out and walk the rest of the way to the emergency room.


“We need to face this health crisis, this economic crisis, this housing crisis and hunger crisis with seriousness and boldness.


“People in Michigan and across the country are crying out for help.


“It’s time for this body to listen, and it’s time for Congress to lead.


“We should not go home until we have passed at least a short term survival package to help Americans through the next few months. That’s our job and we should not go home until that job is done.


“We are the United States of America. Nothing is holding us back from helping our citizens other than just people’s unwillingness to do it. Nothing. We are the United States of America.


“There is no reason we are not coming together and shame on Congress and the White House if we don’t act now to help our citizens.


“There is nothing holding us back but the political will to do it, and it needs to get done. There are many of us now on both sides of the aisle working to do that and we need to make sure people lean in together and get this done.