AFT’s Weingarten: Tell the Senate to pass the HEROES Act

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WEINGARTEN

By RANDI WEINGARTEN
President
American Federation of Teachers

All over the country, parents are wondering if schools will open this fall and agonizing over whether it is safe to send their children back to the classroom. Teachers and other school staff face the same issues, scrambling and getting increasingly angry at demands that they get back to school without the safeguards and resources needed.

Every state and school district is being asked to do more with less, hoping the Senate will come through with a desperately needed COVID-19 relief package so schools can reopen safely, jobs will be saved, and students will get the academic, social and emotional health services they deserve.

But what have Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his colleagues in the Senate been doing? They’ve been on vacation — seriously, I’m not exaggerating. While we’ve been trying to figure out if schools meet the criteria to reopen safely, McConnell sent the Senate home for a vacation.

Back in May, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a federal aid package designed to help our hard-hit states, schools, cities and towns recover from the pandemic and avoid a deep recession. But McConnell refused to negotiate and gaveled out.

They’re coming back to work this week; let’s not let them come back to empty inboxes. That’s why, even if you’ve already called your senators, we need you to call them again today. 

Mitch McConnell has failed every single family in the country by refusing to do his job. So let’s make sure he and the Senate hear from us when they catch up on their emails.

The HEROES Act, which is the bill the House passed, contains $1 trillion in federal aid to fund essential services at the local level, including more than $100 billion so we can reopen schools safely and protect our children and the people who take care of them. This is lifesaving aid for public K-12 schools, and it provides critical resources for public colleges and universities, child care, public hospitals and Medicaid. This funding would support the frontline workers in this pandemic, and it is critical to reopening our society safely. Without this aid, we will see draconian cuts to essential services and hundreds of thousands of layoffs, threatening to deepen this Main Street recession into a full-fledged depression.

We know what’s required to reopen our schools safely, keep families afloat and protect our economy. We just need McConnell and his friends to care as much about our children and our country as they do about their wealthy donors. This nation is battling a public health crisis, an economic crisis and a racial justice crisis. To get through this moment, we must pull together and invest in what matters.

Please contact your senators today and tell them not to forfeit our future. Click here to call your senators and tell them to pass the HEROES Act for our communities, our families, our children and our future.

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