April 20th, 2020

Linda Benesch, [email protected]
Brett Abrams,  [email protected]

Reps. Jayapal, Pocan, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Tlaib, and Omar launch #PutPeopleFirst campaign with progressive organizations

Washington, DC- Today, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) joined leaders of progressive organizations for a virtual press conference launching the #PutPeopleFirst campaign to advance the Congressional Progressive Caucus priorities in the next coronavirus relief package.

Video of the event is available on Periscope here and on Facebook here.

The #PutPeopleFirst campaign is calling on Speaker Pelosi and congressional leaders to ensure the next package is open to every person in this country, regardless of tax or immigration status, age or disability status and includes the following provisions:

1. Keep people on payrolls: Stop mass layoffs, and preserve employment relationships for all businesses, including small businesses. Ensure federal dollars go to workers and small businesses, not enriching CEOs and Wall Street.

2. Provide financial relief: Expand aid for the most vulnerable in the COVID-19 epidemic, including direct cash assistance, increased food aid, debt relief, and eviction protections.

3. Protect public health: Full health coverage for all COVID-19 care and protections for all frontline workers.

4. Defend elections: Enact a vote-by-mail requirement for 2020 federal elections while maintaining access to in-person voting for those who do not have access to mail voting.

“If we’re going to climb out of this crisis, we need bold solutions that match the scale of the crisis we’re facing today. This is unlike anything we’ve faced in decades. If we are going to beat the virus we need to keep people home and expand testing. If we’re going to keep people home we need to ensure that we stop the mass unemployment and keep paychecks coming for workers across the country.” – Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)

“We need to put money in the pockets of people who need it right now. That means direct cash assistance not once, but continuously – and expanding food aid and preventing people from losing their homes. Every insecurity that low-income communities and communities of color face is magnified by this pandemic and we must treat our response accordingly.” – Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

“We have to make sure that we demand meaningful change and meaningful assistance for working families. That means $2000 a month plus $1000 for your kids recurring. That means everyone who needs to go to a hospital can go to a hospital without their last words before being intubated being, ‘How much is this going to cost me?’” – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)

“We are one country and everybody in it needs to be safe, and everyone in it needs to be protected. When we fight for lives and livelihoods, that is for everyone.” – Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)

“We have to reject any calls for a return to normal, because that normal was one that was slowly killing people. That normal was one that did not provide adequate health care. That normal is one that abandoned our most vulnerable communities in times of crisis.” – Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)

“We must ensure that water is truly a human right in this country, especially in the face of this pandemic. We need to put people first and reject the disease of corporate greed. From access to clean, safe water, to recurring payments – we are fighting to ensure the residents who are on the frontline and who have been suffering long before this are protected and centered in our response to provide relief.” – Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)

“Congress needs to listen to their own constituents–their pain, fear and outrage. We know that Republicans are taking advantage of this moment to shovel more money to big corporations. That’s why it’s critical that Democrats use their leverage and the full power of the House to demand solutions that rise to the needs of the moment.

This is why progressives across the country worked to flip the House. It was to put Democrats in charge in moments like this. Now we need them to fight for a response that truly meets the gravity of the crisis.” – Leah Greenberg, Co-Executive Director, Indivisible Project 

“The narrative that COVID-19 is the great equalizer is not true. Yes, anyone can get the coronavirus, but those contracting and dying from it are disproportionately people of color. Sadly, this is not surprising. Structural racism and inequality in U.S. society has led to Black, brown, and immigrant communities to be both more exposed to the virus and more susceptible to its complications because of the persistent health inequities that take years off the life expectancies of Black and brown people in America. The policies we’re calling for need to be inclusive of everyone, no exceptions, and we need to target resources to directly impacted people.” – Lorella Praeli, President of Community Change Action 

“Immigrant workers have always been essential in keeping our communities going. Now, in the face of COVID-19 they are keeping our country moving, they are keeping our country fed, and they are keeping people safe and healthy. They are putting people first. Yet, the people who are cooking the food we’re eating don’t have enough to eat themselves, don’t have access to health care, or to free COVID-19 testing and treatment. They also did not receive the stimulus checks that many people received. Every single relief package being discussed in Congress must include both the health care and financial assistance immigrant communities need. People are getting sick, and our people are dying. Our immigration status should not be a condemnation to sickness, hunger or death. Congress shouldn’t be delaying a response to vulnerable communities.” – Greisa Martinez Rosas, DACA recipient and Deputy Executive Director of United We Dream 

“We need bold solutions and policy prescriptions that not only meet the audacious needs of the present moment, but set us on a path for healing the tremendous pain that people are feeling on all levels.” – Reggie Hubbard, Washington DC Strategist, MoveOn

“Our broken health care system and rigged economy are making this crisis so much worse for so many. We must do the work now to put people first in this recovery and build a more just and equitable nation moving forward.” – Liz Watson, executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center

“We demand that the people’s government put people first. Putting people first means ensuring that people have regular, adequate income to survive this crisis. That is why everyone in America should receive emergency monthly payments of $2,000 until the crisis is over. Those receiving Social Security and SSI, seniors and people with disabilities most at risk from COVID-19, should receive an extra $200 a month on top of that.” – Alex Lawson, Executive Director, Social Security Works

“Our polling shows that voters overwhelmingly support immediate and expansive relief for the American people. The policies in the Put People First package are some of the most popular we tested.” – Sean McElwee, Executive Director, Data for Progress

“Previous relief packages failed to meet the needs of working families, while giving windfalls to the wealthy. Congress can and must do better by making sure the next package puts people first. That means ensuring healthcare is a right, that the right to vote is protected, and that working families get the economic lifeline they need.” – Maurice Mitchell, National Director, Working Families Party

“It is critical that Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Party leadership use their leverage to include common sense relief measures in the next major stimulus package. The federal response has offered to bail out CEOs and corporations more than it has the tens of millions of people who’ve lost their jobs and their ability to afford groceries, pay rent, or access healthcare in the middle of a pandemic. Democrats must unify around substantive, universal relief measures that prioritize the economic security and health of Americans.” – Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director of Justice Democrats