COVID-19 Federal Fight Continues; Action Needed; Civil Rights Complaint Filed


March 24, 2020 | by Amber Smock

COVID-19 stimulus advocacy in Washington, DC continues at a furious pace, and we need your help once again. It is imperative that this next stimulus package contain critical priorities for our community and that disability rights protections are not cut back. (Quick link to take action here.) Read on for details.

Last night, the U.S. House Democrats released their own version of a third COVID-19 stimulus bill. This bill contains many of the provisions that disability advocates have been fighting for. Policy advocates are currently reviewing the bill materials to see what did and did not get included, but we know that this bill addresses many of the human services needs our community faces, including economic support, healthcare, transit, housing, and education. This bill does NOT allow waivers/threats to IDEA, which is good.

The U.S. Senate meanwhile continues to negotiate the bill that Senate Republicans introduced last Friday. The full focus of action is really in the Senate; the Senate bill does not really have anything useful for the disability community other than rebate recovery checks (which the House bill has). The House bill was developed as a way to pressure the Senate. It’s unclear what precisely is going to happen today in the Senate. Deep political polarization is creating a lot of tension, as is the fact that one Senator has tested positive for COVID-19 and four others are in self-quarantine. An attempt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday to force a close to debate on the bill resulted in failure and very short tempers.

So today, we need to ask you once again to take action at this link. We have shifted the messaging slightly to reflect the current situation; with one message you will contact both your U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative. It is essential that they hear the voices of disability voters. Please act now, share the alert and get your friends and families to help!

Other great action alert links (there are many, these are just a few):

PLUS: Disability advocates are fighting to ensure that healthcare triaging will be fair to persons with disabilities. Yesterday, a group of disability advocates filed a federal complaint to push for guidance on emergency medical triage procedures, to block disability discrimination before it occurs. Joe Shapiro at National Public Radio ran this piece on it, and the New York Times ran an op-ed from disability advocate Ari Ne’eman, with quotes from Disability Visibility project founder Alice Wong. Access Living is tracking this issue closely.

Take good care of yourselves, folks. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We thank each of you for taking action for our collective well-being and survival.