August 03, 2020

Congressional Leaders on Environmental Justice Issues Respond to Republican COVID-19 Proposal that Ignores the Needs of Communities of Color During this Crisis


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Leaders of the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus, Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tom Carper (D-DE), and leaders of the House of Representative’s United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force, Representatives A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), today released a joint statement in response to the Republican COVID-19 proposal, the HEALS Act

“The COVID-19 pandemic has raged on across this country, killing more than 150,000 Americans and causing unprecedented crises—one of public health and one of economic devastation. And sadly, yet unsurprisingly, the most fatal impacts fall on our lower-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and indigenous communities.  

“After months of inaction, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans finally proposed a plan, the HEALS Act, which lacks compassion, resources and support for environmental justice communities. Not only does this proposal fail to extend enhanced unemployment benefits, it also lacks emergency drinking water funding and adequate funding for the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program. During a national crisis like this, no family should have to worry about their utilities being cut off, but without investing in these programs that is what will happen in households across this country.

“We stand in strong opposition to the HEALS Act and will fight to ensure that the needs of environmental justice communities are centered in any future COVID-19 recovery package.” 

Earlier this year, members of the Senate Environmental Justice Caucus wrote to Senate Leadership requesting assistance in the fourth COVID-19 relief package for environmental justice communities to help reduce pollution, which impacts COVID-19-related health outcomes, as well as stimulate the economy. Members of the House United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force also wrote a letter to House and Senate Leadership urging support for similar programs and priorities in COVID-19 response efforts. The House-passed CARES Act included many of these priorities, including provisions to ensure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continue to administer their environmental justice grants program.