Call Your MoC About the Coronavirus Relief Package, part 2


You may recall that we had a call your MoC post about the HEROES Act already. It is a really big act, so the post focused on extending stimulus payments and unemployment insurance bonus payments. The HEROES Act extends and improves the benefits delineated in the CARES Act. However, there is an urgency to getting it passed since (a) the CARES Act expires on 31 July and (b) the Senate reconvenes for exactly eleven days on Monday 20 July. In other words, there is a short time for the Senate to act. They need your prodding and pushing to get them to do the right thing.

This post discusses other bills that are either before Congress or are tied to the HEREOS Act. When I was searching through Congress.gov for bills related to the #COVID19 pandemic, I found a confusing plethora of bills. There were three that caught my eye and you might could call about. They are the HEROES Act, Protecting Renters from Evictions and Fees, and Making Trump use his authority to prevent termination of electric and natural gas services. I thought I’d summarize them all here for you and give you some scripts to follow when you call your MoC.

For tips on calling your MoC, suggestions on other ways you can influence your MoC and the public on this issue, links to find contact information for your MoC, and a link to Indivisible, please see the Call Your MoC page.

HEREOS ACT

The HEROES Act (HR 6800) is one of the top ten most viewed bills on the site, so it was easy to find. Here’s the skinny on it:

  • The title: Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or the HEROES Act — boy, somebody put some thought into that didn’t they? HEROES Act, for short. Cute.
  • The sponsor: Nita Lowey (D-NY, 17); it has eleven co-sponsors in the House, all D’s.
  • The summary: I’ve done a few of these, and the summaries of most bills are a sentence or short paragraph. This one is two humongous bulleted lists. “This bill responds to the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.” It does it by providing additional payments directly to individuals and the extending unemployment insurance bonus, providing additional funding to local and federal governments, expanded testing and contact tracing, eliminates cost sharing for #COVID19 treatments, extending and expanding the moratorium on evictions, and requiring employers to have a plan for limiting exposure to infectious diseases like #COVID19. It also expands and modifies a wide range of programs and policies like prisons, Medicare and Medicaid, student loans, and medical product supplies.
  • The text: The full text for those who might want to consult that. It is a really big bill, though with 20 divisions each with multiple titles.
  • Actions: It passed the House on a strict party-line vote (208 to 199) on 15 May. It was passed on to the Senate on 20 May. It has been read twice and placed on the legislative calendar (No. 455).

Obviously, you should call your senators and tell them you’d like them to vote for the HEREOS Act.

Protecting Renters from Evictions and Fees Act of 2020

The Protecting Renters from Evictions and Fees Act (S 4097) amends Section 4024 of the CARES Act (15 U.S.C. 9058) by providing a temporary moratorium on evictions filings by landlords until 27 March 2021. The current moratorium is set to expire on 25 July! That’s soon.

  • The title: Protecting Renters from Evictions and Fees Act of 2020
  • The sponsor: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass); It has 17 co-sponsors (16 original co-sponsors, so that they all can call it their bill). Of course, all of them are Dems or Inds.
  • The summary: The bill expands the current moratorium to include all renters instead of just those in federal housing and extends the moratorium until 27 March 2021 when Biden can have gotten the virus under control and we really can be getting back to normal.
  • The text: This is a relatively short bill. It can be read and understood relatively easily. You should check it out just to see how it is done, you know, as part of the Great Civics Lesson.
  • Actions: It has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Look through the list of members carefully. If you have a senator on the committee, mention that in your phone call.
    • Majority Members (13): Crapo, Mike (ID), Chairman; Shelby, Richard C. (AL); Toomey, Patrick J. (PA); Scott, Tim (SC); Sasse, Ben (NE); Cotton, Tom (AR); Rounds, Mike (SD); Perdue, David (GA); Tillis, Thom (NC); Kennedy, John (LA); McSally, Martha (AZ); Moran, Jerry (KS); and Cramer, Kevin (ND)
    • Minority Members (12): Brown, Sherrod (OH), Ranking Member; Reed, Jack (RI); Menendez, Robert (NJ); Tester, Jon (MT); Warner, Mark R. (VA); Warren, Elizabeth (MA); Schatz, Brian (HI); Van Hollen, Chris (MD); Cortez Masto, Catherine (NV); Jones, Doug (AL); Smith, Tina (MN); and Sinema, Kyrsten (AZ)

If the HEROES Act passes, this one may become obsolete, but (a) there is no guarantee that the HEROES Act will pass, (b) even if it does pass, it might not have this provision in the same way; and (c) the provisions in this bill early BEFORE many of the other benefits of the CARES Act do.

The National Moratorium of Electric and Natural Gas Services Termination

Okay, I’m making the name of this act up because it is like a hundred words long otherwise (S 4029). Apparently, the office of the president can declare an emergency under section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5191(b)) with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (#COVID–19) and prevent the termination of electric and gas services, but, of course, he won’t because narcissism? sadist? ass? God, who knows why, but he won’t.

  • The title: To express the sense of Congress regarding the need for a nationwide moratorium on electric and natural gas utility disconnections during the nationwide emergency relating to the spread of the novel coronavirus. See, I told you it was long. Notice, it says to express the sense that, that means Congress is telling the Ol’ Pussy Grabber to get out of golf cart and DO SOMETHING!
  • The sponsor: Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass); It has seven original co-sponsors. You guessed it, all of them Democrats.
  • The summary: This bill directs the office of the president to ensure that no one’s electric or gas is terminated for lack of payment during the #COVID19 crisis and that those who have already been terminated get hooked back up at no extra charge to them.
  • The text: Another blessedly short bill. The summary is nearly as long as it is.
  • Actions: The bill has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Look through the members of the committee carefully. If one of your senators sits on the committee, then you should mention that to them in the phone call.
    • Majority Members (11): Murkowski, Lisa (AK), Chairman; Barrasso, John (WY)Risch, James E. (ID); Lee, Mike (UT); Daines, Steve (MT); Cassidy, Bill (LA); Gardner, Cory (CO); Hyde-Smith, Cindy (MS); McSally, Martha (AZ); Alexander, Lamar (TN); and Hoeven, John (ND)
    • Minority Members (9): Manchin, Joe (WV), Ranking Member; Wyden, Ron (OR); Cantwell, Maria (WA); Sanders, Bernard (VT); Stabenow, Debbie (MI); Heinrich, Martin (NM); Hirono, Mazie K. (HI); King, Angus S. (ME); and Cortez Masto, Catherine (NV)

This bill is important because no one needs their electric or gas cut off ever — I know, I have had mine cut — but especially with unemployment as high as it is and in this heat! And, in the winter, in that cold!

The Script

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [STATE and LOCALITY].

I’m calling today in support of [THE NUMBER OF ACTS] before the Senate [AND ONE OR TWO BEFORE YOUR COMMITTEE].

Please support the HEROES Act. The Senate must provide support for everyone hurt by the #COVID19 pandemic, but, especially by providing local governments with the funds they need, especially for expanded testing and contact tracing and medical equipment. We need to get the pandemic under control and the HEROES Act will help us do that. All of it’s provisions will expire on or before 31 July, so it is important that the Senate act quickly.

The Protecting from Eviction and Other Fees Act is very important because it extends and expands the evictions protections of the CARES Act, which will expire on 25 July. With unemployment as high as it is, no one should be evicted during the pandemic.

And, please support Sen. Markey’s bill urging Trump to declare a #COVID19 emergency and prevent the termination of electric and gas services. Again, with unemployment as high as it is and the heat of the summer, no one should have their electric and gas service terminated.

Thank you for your time and attention.

IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied.

Please leave us a comment telling us about your experience calling.

Image Attribution

This is a Wikimedia Commons image. This United States Congress image is in the public domain. This may be because it was taken by an employee of the Congress as part of that person’s official duties, or because it has been released into the public domain and posted on the official websites of a member of Congress. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

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